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CENTURY 

COMlVfUNiCATIONS 



AN INTRODUCTION TO 

mm 

MULTI-USER DUNGEON 




DUNCAN HOWARD 



INTRODUCTION o RICHARD BARTLE 



AN INTRODUCTION 
TO MUD 



Duncan Howard 



CENTURY 

COMMUNICATIONS 



Century Communications 
— London — 



© Copyright MUSE Ltd 1985 



All rights reserved 

First published in 1985 by 
Century Communications Ltd, 
a division of Century Hutchinson 
Brookmount House, 62-65 Chandos Place, 
Covent Garden, London WC2N 4NW 

ISBN o 7126 0691 2 

Originated by NWL Editorial Services, 
Langport, Somerset, TAio 9DG 

Printed and bound in Great Britain by 
Hazell, Watson & Viney, Aylesbury, Bucks. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION by Richard Bartle I 



Chapter 


I 


A day in the death of 
an adventurer 


7 


Chapter 


2 


What is MUD? 


II 


Chapter 


3 


MUD commands 


19 


Chapter 


4 


Fighting in MUD 


25 


Chapter 


5 


MUD spells 


29 


Chapter 


6 


Monsters 


35 


Chapter 


7 


Treasure in MUD 


37 


Chapter 


8 


Wizards and witches 


43 


Chapter 


9 


Places in the Land 


47 


Chapter 


10 


Daemons 


53 


Chapter 


II 


Puzzles and mazes 


55 


Chapter 


12 


Who's who in MUD 


63 


Chapter ij 


A specktackerler Christmas 


71 


Chapter 14 


In conclusion 


77 


Appendix A 


A logged game of MUD 


79 


Appendix B 


Useful addresses 


89 



Hi 



INTRODUCTION 
by Richard Bartle 



The original mud was conceived, and the core written, 
by Roy Trubshaw in his final year at Essex University 
in 1980. When I took over as the game's maintainer 
and began to expand the number of locations and 
commands at the player's disposal I had little inkling 
of what was going to happen. First it became a cult 
among the university students. Then, with the advent 
of Packet Switch Stream (PSS), mud began to attract 
players from outside the university — some calling 
from as far away as the USA and Japan! 

MUD proved so popular that it began to slow down 
the Essex University DEC- 10 for other users and its 
availability had to be restricted to the middle of the 
night. In other places with DEC- 10 systems to whom I 
lent a copy of mud the story was the same — 
restrictions were imposed at Aberdeen and Oslo 
Universities. 

Even this did little to quell enthusiasm for the game. 
By the time we had thirty people playing simulta- 
neously at 3 am at Essex, with every line into DEC- 10 
full, Roy and I realized that we had to bring the game 
onto a dedicated system. 

The result is a new version of mud, which we have 
completely rewritten from the ground up, taking into 
account all the lessons learned from around forty 
thousand hours of playtesting which the original mud 
has at the time of writing had. 

The new mud contains all of the old mud, plus part 
of VALLEY, the mini-MUD developed when DEC- 10 core 



INTRODUCTION 



was too precious to enable mud to be mounted, plus 
about the same number of locations again — about a 
tiiousand rooms in all. At the time of writing it is about 
to go online on a British Telecom owned VAX in 
London. Meanwhile the earlier version continues to 
flourish on Compunet and at Essex University. 

The main technical difference between the new and 
the old MUD is that the new one is virtually machine 
independent. It no longer needs a DEC-io to mount it. 
From the players' point of view the main distinguish- 
ing features are that the new one contains a vast 
number of new spells, some of which are described 
later in this book, and also it enables players to 
communicate with machine-generated characters. 
Quite why, in a multi-user game where you can chat to 
your fellow human beings, people should want 'intelli- 
gent mobiles' is difficult to understand. But in a recent 
poll of existing mud players it was top of the list of 
desired innovations. 

MUD has never been 'frozen'. I have always enjoyed 
adding new areas to it, and new commands and spells. 
Some of these prove popular and become permanent 
features of the game, others are quietly dropped. So 
don't be surprised if you find yourself in a familiar 
room and mysteriously a new 'exit' has appeared. Take 
a look .... 

I also welcome feedback, comments and suggestions 
from MUD players, so feel free to write to me at MUSE 
(there's a facility on most computers running mud 
enabling you to do this electronically and, yes, we can 
also handle good old 'snail mail' if you don't yet have a 
modem). I don't guarantee to be able to act on all your 
suggestions or to be able to answer every letter 
individually, but I'll be doing my best to act on 
sensible suggestions and to take note of any comments 
you make or 'bugs' you think you've uncovered 
(previous experience suggests that if anything can go 
wrong with a system, mud players will discover it!). 

Despite the many violent goings-on in mud, the 
fighting, cheating, stealing, arguments, and so on, I 
have always appreciated the tremendous camaraderie 
amongst mud players. Indeed, some people I know 



2 



INTRODUCTION 



count other mud players amongst their best friends — 
even though they may never have met them! It s my 
hope that this spirit will continue as the popularity of 
the game increases. 

MUD is a game and its enjoyability is largely deter- 
mined by the people who play it. So, whether you like 
to use MUD as a social club, swapping jokes and 
anecdotes with others, or whether you are more 
interested in behaving like a hooligan — rushing 
around attacking everyone and everything m sight — 
makes no difference. The object is to have fun! I hope 
some of that spirit comes across in Duncan Howard s 
book and will continue as mud develops commercially. 

Richard Bartle^ 1985 
c/o MUSE Ltd., 
6, Albemarle Way, 
London ECiV 4JB 

The author and publishers are grateful to Sunshine 
PubHcations Ltd for permission to use material origm- 
ally written by Richard Bartle for the magazine 
Micro Adventurer. 



3 



*★★***★** 



People play MUD from all over the world. 
One morning recently among the players 
were one from Japan and two from the 
USA, one in San Francisco, the other in 
New York. Thus MUD can be seen in 
certain ways as the ^global village\ 



I 



A DAY IN THE DEATH 
OF AN ADVENTURER 



I had heard of mud, of course. For months the 
watering places where adventurers gather had been full 
of rumours about a fabulous land cut off from the 
world by mountains and which contained immeasur- 
able wealth; a land which was said to exercise so strong 
a grip over its inhabitants that many adventurers never 
returned from it; a land ruled by all-powerful wizards 
and witches who were said to delight in confusing the 
tenderfoot adventurers who approached them; a land 
where magic exercised a powerful sway and wise 
adventurers were advised to keep their weaponry close 
to hand. 

One summer I set out to find mud. All day I climbed 
through the mountains. As evening fell, and I was 
thinking of halting for the night, I came across the 
secret pass and ventured in. Somehow, as I stood on 
that narrow road with the majestic mountains behind 
me, I knew that I had found my goal. It was raining, a 
thin but steady drizzle which ran off the locks of my 
hair in rivulets, piercing the folds of my jerkin. Around 
my feet a playful rabbit snuffled and I bent down to 
stroke it. The brute promptly turned savage so I beat a 
retreat down the road. 'Be careful!' the old man back in 
the inn had warned me, 'Nothing is ever quite what it 
seems in mud.' In the distance I heard a booming 
sound, as if a cannon had just been fired and a distant 



7 



A DAY IN THE DEATH OF AN ADVENTURER 



voice came from somewhere: 'Help! I've been locked 
in the kitchen. Come and let me out please!'. Then 
came a sinister, reverberating chuckle, the sort made 
only by one who takes pleasure in another's misfor- 
tune. It echoed across the skies and sent shivers down 
my spine .... 

After a while I found myself wandering in a misty 
graveyard. The tombstones contained the epitaphs of 
an adventuring hall of fame — names I had heard men 
whisper in hushed and awe-struck tones back in the 
inn — Jez, Ronan, Innocent, and the legendary Sue 
the Witch. Beside the grave of Denise the Witch, 
among the footprints where Egor the Wizard had 
danced, lay the recumbent figure of an old rival of 
mine in adventuring: Aragorn. He lay prostrate, snor- 
ing like a trooper after a hogshead of ale. Alongside 
him lay some gold earrings, an axe, a valuable icon and 
a burning brand. 

I could not resist the opportunity to avail myself of 
these valuables and had just scooped them up when he 
woke. 'Oi! Give those back or I'll kill you!' he 
bellowed. Hastily I fled, I know not in which direc- 
tion. Soon I came to the edge of a massive cliff 
overlooking the sea. The tang of salt lay heavy in the 
air. Far out at sea I could make out the shell of some 
rotting galleon which had been wrecked on some 
vicious-looking rocks. Probably the inhabitants of the 
Land had lured it there deliberately, I mused, in order 
to plunder it: they seemed that sort. 

Further to the north-west was a large island. Most of 
it seemed forested but I could make out a clearing 
containing a sinister Stonehenge-like structure. I stood 
there absorbing the atmosphere. Somehow I felt I was 
a part of the Land, living in it and breathing with it. I 
could sense the sighs of souls passing away, hear the 
sounds of other adventurers doing deeds of daring, feel 
the gamut of human emotion, the greed, the lust for 
conquest and blood; but also the nobler human ele- 
ments of co-operation, of hospitality to fellow travel- 
lers and of generosity to others. 

A gull fluttered past me, almost within touching 
distance, and broke my reverie. Beside me, dressed in 

8 



A DAY IN THE DEATH OF AN ADVENTURER 



flowing white robes, was a beautiful and commanding- 
looking maiden. 

'Er, greetings' I ventured nervously, 'Who are you?'. 
'I am Kronos the Witch, mortal,' she replied. And 
who might you be to trouble me?'. 

With trepidation I explained who I was and that this 
was my first visit to the Land. To my surprise, by 
some magical process I could not divine, she pro- 
ceeded to take me all over the Land. One moment 1 
found myself in the crow's nest of the galleon I had 
noticed earlier, the next I was in a sorcerer s room, 
decked out with mysterious, magical artefacts — and 
then suddenly I was down a mine. Weird and strange 
were the things I gathered on this tour. 

Finally Kronos let me down with a bump in a 
pleasant pasture. 'Now make for the swamp' she told 
me 'Make sure you don't take any naked lights with 
you' and in a puff of smoke she disappeared. 

Hastily I dropped my brand and made for the 
swamp. Something told me it was to the east — and as 
I drew nearer my nostrils were assailed by a noxious 
smell of sulphur. So this was the famous swamp! 1 had 
heard that a magnificent crown lay somewhere inside 
it, awaiting the first person to discover it. I dropped all 
the treasure I had collected and watched it sink into 
the murky depths. Immediately I felt a warm glow 
inside me. Something told me I was no longer a mere 
tenderfoot but a protector! I gazed awhile at the vast 
tract of poisonous-looking slime ahead of me and 
wondered how I could find the crown in it without 
getting lost. My musings were soon interrupted, how- 
ever. For suddenly I became aware of the presence ot 
another being — it was Aragorn! 

'I've been looking for you' he growled — and he was 
glaring at me ominously. Then he attacked and I was 
bruised by the force of a backhand blow from him. 
Groggily I recovered and waded into the tight My 
return clout sent Aragorn flying. Yet, dazedly he 
recovered and his counterswing sent me reeling. Uimly 
I felt my life blood slipping away .... 



2 



WHAT IS MUD? 



MUD Stands for Multi-User Dungeon. It's the most 
advanced, interactive, computerized adventure game in 
the world. What makes mud so exciting is that, unlike 
'normal' adventures where there's no-one around to 
see you battle against the monsters, score points and 
carry out deeds of daring, mud is affected by the other 
people playing at the same time as you. You can chat 
CB-style to your fellow adventurers, cast spells on 
them, help them, even attack them! This makes every 
game of mud different. You can save your 'persona' on 
the computer any time you like and, later, continue play 
from where you left off. To play mud, you need a home 
computer (almost any with an RS-232 port will do) 
and a modem. 

In MUD your score determines your 'level' which in 
turn determines your ability to play. This is mud's 
method of keeping the novice players from being 
completely overwhelmed by the more experienced 
players. For example, while novices are still wandering 
around the mainland exploring, more advanced players 
are off on the island hunting dragons! Eventually your 
score will get high enough (assuming you're clever 
enough not to be killed) and you'll take on the rank of 
wizard. This is the ultimate aim of every mud player, 
but becoming a wizard doesn't spell the end of the 
game, mud changes dramatically for players who 
become wizards, with all sorts of new commands 
becoming available to them. Later chapters in this 



II 



WHAT IS MUD? 



book will explain wizards and their purpose in the 
game in more detail. 

The MUD program comes in two parts, the database 
and the interpreter. The former is a description of the 
world, what will happen if people type certain things, 
and what will happen of its own accord whether you do 
anything or not. The latter is the program which takes 
in commands from the user and follows the sequence 
of actions which this entails as defined in the database. 
To clarify this, you can look on the database as if it 
were, say, a basic program. It describes exactly what 
you want to happen, but doesn't actually do anything. 
The interpreter is like the basic interpreter, which 
reads in the program (database) and brings it to life. 
mud's interpreter comes in two parts, one which 
compiles the human-readable database into computer- 
readable form, and one which loads and runs this. 

The reason for partitioning mud in this way is so that 
it can be ported over to other machines very easily, at 
least in theory. All you need to do is to rewrite the 
interpreter, and the database can remain unchanged. 
Unfortunately, the database is at quite a high level, and 
the interpreter is pretty colossal. In the new commer- 
cial version of mud (ie. you pay to play), the interpreter 
is much smaller, the brunt of the work being done in 
the database because it's more transportable. 

When you run mud to start with, it looks like an 
average adventure game. It asks you for a name, what 
sex you want to be, and a password. Then it gives you 
the description of the first room, mud's descriptions 
are normally about seven or eight lines long, any more 
and you'd get killed while reading them! The object 
descriptions come on separate lines (to give some hint 
that they're not actually part of the description, and 
you can do things to them), and so does the inform- 
ation about who is present in the room with you. 

The aim of mud is to collect points. There are three 
ways to do this. The most common way is to get 
treasure and drop it in the swamp, which effectively 
puts it out of the game, so points can't be scored for it 
twice. The second most common way is by killing 
people. When you top another player, you get one 



72 



1 lO IVH-^ 1^1 



twenty-fourth of their points, in general. The last way 
fm do some menial task such as makmg the bed or 
drinkfng some spring water, although the pomts for 
these are piteously poor. 

You can lose points, too. Points can be lost for doing 
, r,iH rhines like trying to smoke the wolfsbane, but 
^o? ' ten fL^^^^^^ go when.you're Idlled^ In muo 
fou die often, how permanent it is depends upon how 
Happened. If you'?e dead, it normally "^eans you d^ 
something which killed you, like )ump off the clitt 
wiXou some sort of parachute, or drink some poison 
or Seve^ This in mudspeke, the jargon mud player^ 
use is known as being DEAD. You can come back from 
Sekig DEAoTbut you lose poims for it. If you are killed 
in a fight however, you end up permanently deceased, 
or DEAD DEAD. Hence, although fights have good 
?ewards'when won, they're soul-de~ 
lose' The only way to be DEAD DEAD tor aoing 
something silly is if you carry uranium around with 
vou ignoring the messages about how tired you feeU 
S your stamina drops below zero^ Resurr^^^^^^^^ 
the onlv way to recover from being DEAD DEAD ana it 
costs half your points. It's very costly, but the only 
other alternative is to start over again. 

Since Dlavers with more points tend to be more 
ooouTar tSs for those with an urge to kill, they have 
hettera trfbutes than those they started with, mud 
derates a random set of characteristics for you when 
?ou start 1 your 'persona' which consists of three 
attributes, these being: 

• Strength 

• Stamina 

• Dexterity 

The other attributes usually associated with adven- 
ture eames such as intelligence and charisma are 
provideT by "he actual gamer. These three main 
Stes all affect your gameplay »n various ways 
most obviously your effectiveness in a fight. Strength 
determines how much damage you 11 do to your 
opponent, stamina how much damage you can take, 



'3 



WHAT IS MUD? 



and dexterity affects your chances of landing a blow. 
The average new character's attributes total about a 
hundred and fifty, but as your score increases so do 
your attributes. When you go up a level, your at- 
tributes go up by ten points each until you reach a 
maximum of a hundred in each category. Be warned 
however, that some of mud's monsters know no such 
limitations, and may have a strength and stamina of 
well over five hundred, making them formidable 
creatures indeed! 

The levels in mud have changed as the game 
developed, with the score needed to reach wizard 
increasing from approximately seventy thousand when 
MUD started, to nearly a quarter of a million! This is 
due to two reasons, firstly the game itself has expanded 
in size, and there is more treasure for the taking. 
Secondly, however, mud has been 'solved' by quite a 
few people, and those who ask enough questions will 
be well on their way to wizdom. So, as more players 
solve the game, the level of difficulty required to 
become a wizard must be preserved. The current point 
levels in mud are shown in the tables at the end of this 
chapter. 

You start off as a novice and remain a fighter until 
you perform a certain heroic deed. Magic-users are 
just as powerful as fighters but have the added ability 
of being able to cast spells. Long term wizards and 
people employed by MUSE, who are especially 
trusted, may become arch wizards. They are appointed 
by the game's administrators. 

The reason for the exponential gain in points 
between levels is that novice players take just as long to 
gain their first level, as the more experienced players 
take to move from Sorcerer to Necromancer. This 
allows the better players to get back quickly to their 
level of play (if they're killed) and go off in search of 
treasure completely beyond the reach of the newer 
players. 

Such treasures might include the throne, buried 
deep within the dwarven realm, or perhaps the legend- 
ary druidical treasure trove hidden below the dragon's 
island! And finding these items is just half the pro- 
blem, for to score any points you must return safely to 



omn c^nd deoosit your treasure there. Dumping 
Kmed tls^^^^^^^^^ Jswamp doesn't sound like the 
thing you could do with it, but this ensures that 
other pS?e^s can't score points for treasure that you ve 
a ready been credited for. If you are waylaid on your 
.fback to the swamp, and have your entire haul 
Ttolen you get no reward for your work. Instead the 
is'eo to the player who finally manages to drop the 
treasure in t^^^ The strategies that can be built 
up around this are endless. 

This gives rise to one of mud's main characteristics 
whTch is'that it allows you to behave in a way which 
would be totally unacceptable in real life. It is tnis 
fentafv element which makes the game very enjoyable 
?nd e^ourages players to return for more. You won t 
bfabk to recover your treasure if it is stolen, but you 
miah extract some grim form of pleasure in exacting 
S^nishr^fnt from thi player who deprived you of the 
frui oTyour labours. Revenge can be taken by chasing 
after the felon with a broadsword and running hun 
through You won't score nearly as many points for 
St perhaps such ath-t will keep that pl^^^^^^^ 
from trying the same thing again! There is a goou 
chance you will kill the offending player, but there is 
tSe possibUity that you will lose the J^gbL Fighting 
techniques and strategies are detailed later in this 
book. 

M„n is a huge game, played in an area often 
de^cr^ed as ^he La'nd. Curremly, mud has over a 
SiTusand rooms to explore so it's easy to see why you^ 
be able to spend quite a long time 1"^^ getting fam^^^^^^^ 
with the game. A room doesn't have to be an enclosed 
chamber but, as with most adventure games, it s ,u t 
an area with its own description. The eastern pasture^s 
as much a room, for example, as the entrance to he 
mine. You move from one room to ^.f^^er by telling 
MUD to move your persona in a specific direction eg.. 
GO SOUTH . To find o^ut where (most of) the from a 
room are tvpe EXITS and a hst of possible directions s 
dispr/ed. Sometimes exits are hidden though, and it s 
wise to try out every possibility. 

AS you '^p^^;^'jr^:i%:^x:''s^j^^^. 

encounter one ot the wizaras ui wilv^h 



15 



WHAT IS MUD? 



mastered the game. Called wizzes, these are nlav^^rc 
who have 'finished mud and are now playine .,,1' 
game's referees, helping (or hindering) thl , 
players as they see fit. Wizards have now?r. t k""""^' 
those of ordinary players, some of 1 ^^^^"^ 
described later. At this point itTf^.V f be 
are not to be trifled with Thev rlTu ^^^^ ^'^zes 

they can also be horrendous eLmf.c /''^^^ ^"^^S' but 
wrong side of them. Remembe, 

happy to help you, but if yo^ ne:ter fh'^' "^"^"V 
for advice and points it won"t^o 1 ^^f"" ^^"^'""a]!^ 
ong run. Part of the game r?n / in the 

n!) IS learning to aLTfo ' each'' w" "^^^^^ 
eccentricities. That you wiU iSrn J'^^'^^ l httle 
being let's stick to the basics i^^^^^^ 
command set. This is what Mr?. n"'^ ^^^'"^"e mud's 
persona to do in the game f° tell your 



/6 



WHAT IS MUD? 



PLAYER LEVELS AND POINTS FOR 

FIGHTERS 

Points 

Needed MALE FEMALE 

o NOVICE 
200 PROTECTOR 
400 YEOMAN 
800 WARRIOR 

1, 600 SWORDSMAN SWORD SWOMAN 

3,200 HERO HEROINE 

6,400 SUPERHERO SUPERHEROINE 

12,800 CHAMPION CHAMPIONNE 
25,600 GUARDIAN 
51,200 LEGEND 

102,400 SIR (name) LADY (name) 

204,800 WIZARD WITCH 

PLAYER LEVELS AND POINTS FOR 

MAGIC-USERS 

Points 

Needed MALE FEMALE 

o NOVICE 

200 SEER SEERESS 
400 SOOTHSAYER 
800 CABALIST 
1,600 MAGICIAN 

3,200 ENCHANTER ENCHANTRESS 

6,400 SPELLBINDER SPELLBINDRESS 

12,800 SORCERER SORCERESS 

25,600 NECROMANCER NECROMANCESS 
51,200 WARLOCK 
102,400 MAGE 

204,800 WIZARD WITCH 



17 



WHAT IS MUD? 



The original version of mud, has a very different 
table of levels, as there is no such class as a fighter It 
looks like this: * 



Points 






Needed 


MALE 


riiMALE 


0 


NOVTPP 




400 






800 


HERO 


HEROINE 


1 5600 


CHAMPIOK 


CHAMPIONNE 


3^200 


SUPERHERO 


SUPERHEROTMP 


65400 


ENCHANTER 


ENCHANTRESS 


12,800 


SORCERER 


SORCERESS 


25,600 


NECROMANCER 


NECROMANCESS 


51^200 


LEGEND 




102,400 


WIZARD 


WITCH 



3 

MUD COMMANDS 



You need to guide your character through the Land by 
entering commands which are processed by the mud 
program. When mud is ready for you to tell it what 
your persona is to do, it displays a -x- . At this point mud 
is waiting for you to enter a command, telling it what 
to do. Movement is as in most adventure games: go 
west (or just W), out, back, south and so on. In 
addition to movement, mud has many other com- 
mands. This chapter lists some of them, and gives a 
few examples of their use. 

AUTOWHO 

List who is playing every set period. For example, 
AW: 1 0 will list players every 10 seconds; you can stop 
this by typing AW:0. 

BACK 

Move in the direction you just came from. 

BRIEF 

Shortens mud's textual descriptions, reversed with the 
VERBOSE command. 

BYE 

Quit the game and logoff the system. 



^9 



MUD COMMANDS 



COMMANDS 

Display a list of all the valid commands. 

CONVERSE 

Enter 'conversational' mode, where all text typed is 
treated as speech unless surrounded by parentheses. 
Conversational mode is exited by typing ^. 

DROP <i tem> 

Drop something that you're holding on to. For 
example, DROP gems in swamp. 

EMPTY 

Empty a container that you're holding. For example, 
EMPTY sack will GET everything contained in a sack (if 
you are holding the sack at the time). 

EXITS 

Display the valid exits from the room you are in. 

FEED <monster> WITH <someth i ng> 

Try to feed an item to a monster, such asFEEDogreWI 
acorn. 

FLEE <di recti on> 

Retreat from a fight or monster. FLEE OUT (shortened 
to FO) — for example, means leave very quickly! 

FOLLOW <player> 

Follow someone (or something) around the Land. 
FOLLOW zombi e — now, you're following a zombie, for 
whatever reason .... 

GET <i tem> 

Pick up an item in the same room as you. GET axe or 
GET ring from sack; or even better, GET all — a 
definite timesaver. 



20 



iVi U I-' V-.WlVliY xx^M^y^ 



^Tx/F <iitem> TO <someone> 

^^ Je something to another player, such as GIVE crown 
G;^pVy 3^' - thich would be a very generous act. 

MotJ [n thrspecified direction. GO down - works well 
on staircases. 

HELP 

Displays some useful information. 

MCI p <n1 ayer> , 
Offer to assist another player^ HELP Egor; perhaps 
together you can lift a heavy chest? 

HINTS ^ . 

Displays some helpful hints to get you started. 

IVa^X: player (try it!). Will also -sfe- 
number of poims from the hugger to the huggee. 

INFO 

Displays some useful information about mud. 

INVENTORY 

Lists all the items in your possession. 

KEEP <i tem> , i. i 

If you keep something, and type DROP a1 , die kept 
item will not be dropped. You can ge rid of it by 
either UNKEEPing it, or by specifically telling mud you 
want to drop that single item. 

KILL <player/monster> 

MUD'S all time great command. KI LL ogre wi th axe or 
KILL Igor with broadsword — all fairly sell 
explanatory. 



21 



MUD COMMANDS 



KISS <pl ayer> 

Kiss another player (rather like HUG in that a small 
amount of points is transferred). 

LAUGH 

Display your amusement. 

LEVELS 

List how many points you need to move from level to 
level. 

LOOK 

Examine your surroundings or an item. 

LOSE <pl ayer> 

Stops someone from following you. 

PRONOUNS 

Display mud's current interpretation of HIM, HER and 
THEM. 

QUICKWHO 

Display an abbreviated list of mud's current players. 

QUIT 

Exit the game, but don't logout. 

REFUSE <player> 

Stop another player from helping you. 

RETALIATE WITH <weapon> 

Defend yourself if attacked. Its wise to type this fairly 
quickly, and you can shorten it to RET <weapon>. 

SAVE 

Save your persona in its current state (this is done 
automatically when you leave the game). 

SCORE 

Display your character's score. 



22 



MUD 



cunUT <message> ^ 
cv:.nt a message to all the other players m the game. In 
verSons of mud, only players in nearby areas will 

XX^lT^^^^^ SH HI , anyone here playmg from 
Aberdeen? 

SLEEP 

Go to sleep and recover some stamina. 

SPELLS 

List the spells you can cast. 

STEAL <itenn> FROM <player> 
Try to steal an item from another player. 

TELL<player>, <message> 

Tell another player something. You can also do the 
sarne tWng simply by preceeding your message with 
Sroier player's name, eg.: ZAPHOD Where the 
umbrel 1 a? 

UNKEEP 

The reverse of KEEP. 
VALUE <i tem> 

Display the point of value of an item. VALUE c ro^n - 
displays a number between two thousand and five 
thousand. 

VERBOSE 

The reverse of BRIEF. 

WEIGH <i tem> 

Display the weight of an item. 

WHO 

List the names and levels of the other pl^yers in the 
game. QW can also be used (which is short for 
QUICKWHO) to display a slightly abbreviated hst. 



23 



MUD COMMANDS 



WRITE <object>, <message> 



Write a message somewhere, in a book perhaps. 



This chapter has only touched on mud's vocabulary, 
which is immense, and it has not described mud's 
ability to understand entire sentences. Using advanced 
artificial intelligence (AI) programming techniques, 
MUD IS able to parse amazingly complex commands 
Keep the above list handy because a quick glance at it 
while playing can often aid you in solving a puzzle or 
getting around a problem. 



FIGHTING IN MUD 




One of the first things you'll learn in mud is how to kill 
things. MUD is a very violent game, and pacifists never 
live long (with the notable exception of Innocence the 
Witch, who never killed anyone on her rise to wiz- 
dom!). Monsters and other players can be very hostile 
indeed. There are many weapons that you can use in 
MUD, ranging from large sticks to magical longs words. 
The specifics vary from one mud to another but the 
Essex version has such weapons as: longs word, broad- 
sword, chain (made of solid gold), axes, epee, rapier 
and burning torches. The syntax for using any of these 
weapons is very simple, all you type is: 

KILL <monster/pl ayer> WITH <weapon> 

Then you're propelled into a fearsome battle with your 
enemy, mud itself takes over at the fighting once you've 
attacked something (or when you're attacked). It takes 
into account any weapons used and the combatants' 
attributes when calculating the blows, each of which, 
whether it strikes home or lands harmlessly, will be 
described to you. A persona who has been attacked has 
the option of retaliating with any weapons on his or her 
person (if they can type fast enough!). Combat in mud 
IS a very serious business, with a lot of points involved. 
If you're slain in combat, half your points are lost 
toreyer, that being the price of resurrection (in earlier 
Versions you had to restart completely as a novice!). 



24 



25 



FIGHTING IN MUD 



Conflicts do not have to end in death, you can flee 
from the battle by typing: 

FLEE <direction> 

Retreat involves dropping everything you're carrying 
and the loss of a few points, but that's decidedly better 
than being slain. Discretion is the better part of valour. 

It's your stamina that determines how long you can 
hold up in a fight. Every time you're hit, it drops by a 
few points, and if it goes below zero, you die. Fighting 
leaves your persona in a somewhat battered state, and 
it's always wise to spend some time recuperating after 
every fight. There are several ways to regain stamina, 
the easiest of which is going to sleep. The longer you 
sleep, the more points you recover (until you're fully 
healed), but it's a time-consuming process and you 
leave yourself open to attack while doing so. A faster 
way of recovering stamina is to eat a wafer. Found 
deep in the dwarven realm, these wafers have great 
healing properties: one wafer can restore up to forty 
points of stamina. If you quit the game, one point of 
stamina is recovered per minute, so by playing two 
characters regularly, you can swap if one of them is in 
danger of dying and you don't want to stop playing the 
game. Another advantage to this, is that if one of your 
personas is killed, you won't be completely without the 
advantages that come with owning a high level 
persona. 

A gang of players is quite difficult to overcome, and 
players often find it beneficial to form one of their 
own. Such terror tactics aren't too common as most 
players aren't willing to co-operate to that extent, but, 
when they are used, gangs are deadly! The easiest way 
to keep a mob out of your hair is to join a group, and 
this leads to 'wars' between rival factions of mud 
players. Some versions of mud allow a third character 
type known as the 'berserker'. The future of this 
character type is in doubt as its only purpose in life is 
to kill things. Indeed, they don't score points for 
dropping treasure in the swamp, only for killing 
monsters and/or other players (some drop treasure in 
the swamp anyway, just to annoy other players and 
incite them to violence). A berserker has increased 

26 



FIGHTING IN MUD 



rrributes, does slightly better in combat and receives 
ore points for killing something than the average 
"haracter. When berserkers get enough points to be 
Classed as wizards (a very rare thing), they aren't given 
wizardly powers but instead a strength and stamma of 
two hundred points each, twice the maximum of any 
other character. A berserker wizard is a very, very 
dangerous character and should be avoided at all costs. 

The validity of the berserker character has been 
questioned many times, by mud's followers. They 
seem to appear whenever wizards decide to get rid of 
someone, and the game can get very difficult if not 
impossible. On the other hand, the presence of berser- 
kers ensures that only the most skillful players ever 
reach the rank of wizard. It's a two-way argument, but 
berserkers aren't allowed in the version of mud now 
running at Essex University or on Compunet (much to 
the discomfiture of some). Oslo University's mud 
(running since mid- 1984) allows berserkers, and the 
game's 'wizards' take great delight in using their 
berserkers to wreak havoc. Especially dangerous is 
Slayer, the berserker wizard of Knut Borges, who has 
already been killed off several times. Every time he 
reappears, having been worked up quickly by Knut, to 
hack (and slay) again! It's worth noting that many 
people (who are not wizards) prefer the Norwegian 
game, to the domestic one despite its greater difficulty. 

One of the oldest tricks in mud is to summon 
someone and then attack them when they appear 
before you. It's a very nasty (but effective) system, as 
summoning someone also forces them to drop all their 
equipment (and weapons) and the summonee has 
nothing to defend themself with. You can guard 
against this by keeping a firestone in your possession, 
as it protects you from spells of summoning. If a player 
casts a successful summoning spell on you, and you're 
in possession of a stone it will tell you about the 
attempt, and you'll know who to look out for in the 
future. If the worst happens and you are summoned, 
then type F 0 as quickly as you can, that being the 
abbreviated form of FLEE OUT. If you think your 
persona will last long enough, you can try stealing the 
Weapon of your attacker and then retaliating with it. 



27 



FIGHTING IN MUD 



It's not often a successful tactic, but if you do pull it 
off, you feel a kind of poetic justice and your attacker is 
bound to feel a little put out by it as well. 

The summoning spell and others are very useful 
when fighting in mud. You can also cripple your 
victims, or send them to sleep before going after them, 
and you'll have quite an advantage. The spells in mud,' 
how to use them and their effects are detailed in the 
next chapter. 



28 



5 

MUD SPELLS 



As your persona gains in power, it not only becomes a 
more proficient fighter, but more powerful in the 
arcane arts of spell-casting. As mud has evolved from 
its fairly primitive beginnings, the complexity of its 
spells has increased. The earlier versions of mud had 
these spells: 

SLEEP <person> send victim to sleep 
WHERE <item> locate something or someone 
FORCE <person> force another player to do 
: <command> anything 

DUMB victim loses the ability to speak 

BLIND victim loses the ability to see 

DEAF victim loses the ability to hear 

CRIPPLE victim loses the ability to move 

SUMMON victim appears instantly in your 

room 

These spells have carried over into the newer versions 
of MUD, in various permutations. The commercial 
version of mud gives your persona a 'magic' stamina as 
^ell as an ordinary one. When it runs out you're not 
able to cast any more spells. Your spell points will be 
recovered, like normal stamina, by sleeping or time 
spent off-line. The more powerful spells use more spell 
points and require the caster to be of a minimum level. 
^ list of MUD spells in order of ease to cast, follows. 
Those marked * are reversible, eg.: UNGLOW. Most 
spells have a duration and will run out after a period of 
time. 

29 



MUD SPELLS 



DIVINE 

Detect magic/invisibility. 

GLOW * 

Radiate light. 

HOLD * 

Stops an object from being opened. 

INVIGORATE 

Removes need to sleep, eat and so on. 

SCRAMBLE * 

Make a piece of writing unreadable. 

SHIELD 

Make yourself harder to hit. 

WISH 

Make a wish to the powers that be. 
FREEZE * 

Turn water to ice. 

IGNITE * 

Set fire to something. 
INFRAVISION * 

See in the dark without light. 

LOCATE 

Tells you where something is. 

MELT * 

Turn ice into water. 

PARTIAL INVIS * 

Become invisible to certain creatures. 



30 



MUD SPELLS 



REMEMBER and RECALL 

RECALL will teleport you to the place where you last 
cast REMEMBER. 

CHANGE 

Toggle someone's sex. 

CURE * 

Heal yourself. 

DAZZLE * 

Blind someone temporarily. 

GAG * 

Stop someone from speaking. 

LEVITATE 

Move up or down, but no lateral movement. 

PLUG * 

Deafen someone temporarily. 
PROTECT * 

From a specific threat eg.: fire. 
PURIFY * 

Unpoison something. 

SLEEP 

Put someone to sleep temporarily. 

WEB * 

Entangle someone temporarily. 

CLAIRAUDIENCE * 

Hear all that happens in a named room. 

CLAIRVOYANCE * 

all that happens in a named room. 



31 



MUD SPELLS 



FIREBALL 

Everyone in room takes damage but you. 

FIREWALL * 

Prevent anything from entering or exiting. 

FLY 

Allows you to fly. 

ILLUSION * 

Create a vision which appears real. 

INVISIBILITY * 

No-one can see you when you cast this spell. 

STRENGTH 

Increases your strength. 

THUNDERFLASH 

Deafens, blinds, dumbs and cripples victim. 

WATERBREATHE 

Lets you breathe underwater. 

BLIND * 

Victim loses sight. 
CRIPPLE * 

Victim loses mobility. 
DEAFEN * 

Victim loses hearing. 
DUMB * 

Victim loses ability to speak. 

EXORCISE 

Dispose of undead or corpse. 
32 



MUD SPELLS 



HEAL 

(3et back lots of stamina. 
ICEWALL * 

Stops anything from entering room. 

LIGHTNING 

Zaps an individual. 

PARALYSE 

Stops victim from doing anything. 

SUMMON 

Transport someone to where you stand. 

ATTACH 

Leave your body and enter another. 

DELAY * 

Delay all victim's commands. 

DETACH 

Return to your body and exorcise old one. 

FORCE 

Force victim to enter a command. 
FORCESPHERE * 

Nothing/no-one enters your area. 

INFORM 

Tells you if someone casts a spell on you. 

REINCARNATE 

Make a zombie from a corpse. 

"TELEPORT 

Go somewhere in mud directly. 



33 



MUD SPELLS 



TIMEBOMB 

Delayed action fireball. 



BEWITCH 

Puts victim under your control. 

CREATE * 

Create certain objects or monsters. 

SHELL * 

No spells can be cast on or by you. 

TIMESTOP 

No-one but you can do anything for a short while. 

TURN 

Change something into something else. 

The game has been expanded enormously, and the 
spells let players have a great time causing havoc. With 
many players armed with such a battery of commands, 
it's easy to see how each game of mud is unique. In 
addition, Richard Bartle takes delight in adding a new 
spell every once in a while, so this list will probably be 
out of date fairly soon. Even so, it gives you an idea of 
the range of spells that mud allows you to cast. Of 
course the newest players won't have this many spells 
at their disposal, but as they gain levels they'll also gain 
spells. In fact, one of the great incentives to work for 
more points, is that you'll be able to try out newer and 
more powerful spells. The variety of spells is 
enormous and you can accomplish all sorts of things 
with them. Never before have you been able to put 
your computer to sleep, only to have a fireball thrown 
in your direction! 



34 



6 



MONSTERS 



The Land is populated by a fearsome collection of 
monsters. Sometimes they're guarding a particular 
treasure, but a good proportion of them roam around, 
attacking adventurers at random. The denizens of mud 
range from the undead, to huge, fire-breathing 
dragons. There are dwarves, goblins, snakes, evil 
dryads and even a club-wielding ogre! All of these 
creatures are lethal, some more than others. Careful 
experimentation will reveal that there is more than one 
way to kill a dragon! 

One of the best methods for ridding the Land of a 
troublesome beast is to team up with several other 
players and take on the monster together. While a 
dragon can kill player after player with no ill effects, a 
band of ten is another story. However, it's often quite 
difficult to get ten players to co-operate for long 
enough. A single player can do away with many of the 
less powerful monsters in mud due to the deadly 
destructive force of the magic wand. Players of higher 
levels can ZAP troublesome beasts and be rid of them. 
However, if you try to ZAP a really nasty creature, be 
prepared for some surprising results. Monsters that 
can be zapped with the wand are: 

• Zombies 

• Skeletons 

• Evil Dryads 



35 



MONSTERS 



• most Dwarves 

• Ogres 

• Vipers 

• Goblins 

Some that are too powerful for the wand are: 

• Dragons 

• Sharks 

• The Wolf 

• Guardian 

• Dwarves 

• Golems 

Monsters might not be in mud to harm your persona 
though, they do have alternate uses. Some of them are 
quite talkative, and may provide you with hints and 
advice. Sometimes in mud-2 a wizard will assume the 
guise of a monster though, so you'll never know 
exactly who (or what!) you're dealing with. 

There are many other creatures that you'll encoun- 
ter but I'll leave them for you to discover. If you ZAP 
another player with the wand, it won't kill them 
straight away, but mud will treat it as an attack with a 
very powerful weapon. Through careful playing, mud's 
monsters can be avoided, but one slip can mean the 
end of a valuable character. Funnily enough, you will 
find the monsters in mud to be the least of your 
problems: compared to the other players that is! 



36 



7 

treasure in mud 



Most of the objects that you'll find scattered about the 
Land are worth points if dropped in the swamp. Some 
of the treasure (known in mudspeke as T) are very easy 
to find, but aren't worth very much. New players are 
left to go after these, while more experienced players 
go off in quest of bigger and better things. Easy to find 
treasure, called surface T because it's just sitting on the 
ground at the beginning of each game, doesn't last too 
long as players snap it up very quickly. The other 
treasures which lie deep in tin mines or in wrecked 
galleons off the coast are much more difficult to reach, 
and the major portion of each game is spent trying to 
find these. The most valuable of all the different 
treasures are not only hard to find, but protected by all 
manner of puzzles, riddles and traps! 

If an object isn't valuable as far as points go, it 
probably has a special use that will help lead to other 
more valuable items. For example, the wand is one of 
^ud's most important items. It has no intrinsic value, 
yet the start of every game of mud is marked by a mad 
f^sh of players trying to find it, and other magical 
sterns before anyone else. The wand is extremely useful 
to higher level characters who use it to destroy many of 
^he lesser monsters which plague the Land. Instead of 
^^gaging in deadly combat, the wand can be used as a 
^md of medieval laser, to ZAP monsters quickly and 
^asily into non-existence. The wand does have its 
^mits though; stronger monsters can resist its effects. 



37 



TREASURE IN MUD 



If you try to ZAP the ravenous wolf, the wand is eaten 
(thus removing it from the game) and then the wolf 
goes after jvow! Attempting to ZAP the dragon produces 
similar results. Other items to look out for in mud 
include the amulet, the oracle, the mirror and the 
crystals, to describe only a few. Some treasures in mud 
require a secondary item to get at them, a basic 
example of which is the tin, which needs to be dug out 
of the walls with a sharp object. Here is a list of some 
of mud's more important objects and their methods of 
use. 

The Wand 

The wand can be used to ZAP items, monsters or even 
other players. This makes it one of mud's most useful 
items as it allows you to avoid costly engagements with 
various assailants. 

The Oracle 

The oracle allows you to find out the location of any 
object you desire, you can use it up to seven times 
before its magic fades. 

The Amulet 

You can force another player to do anything, but only 
once, with the amulet. After you have used its magic 
once, the amulet turns to dust in your hands. Until you 
reach wizard, this is the closest you will get to the 
wizard command FORCE. 

The Mirror 

High-level characters can spy on other players using 
the mirror but only use it once per game. To stop 
snooping, however, the mirror must be broken. An- 
other wiz command is unveiled here, SNOOP. 

The Umbrella 

When opened, the brolly (or parasol) is very useful for 
descending from high places. Like jumping off a cliff? 
for example. 



38 



TREASURE IN MUD 



fbe Bow and Baton 

A player who uses these items together is able to 
transport himself all the way across the Land with a 
oass of the hand (literally). There are several items in 
jviUD which can be used to get from place to place. Not 
all of them are as obvious as the flying carpet or the 
pegasus, however. 

The Crystals 

Characters can change their sex by inhaling the 
crystals. 

The Wafers 

Found scattered about the Land, these small biscuits 
boast amazing restorative properties. 



The Pick 

Players can dig for tin and other treasure with this 
item, but more importantly, it's used to get into the 
dwarven realm. 



The Lantern 

Players can use the lantern as a temporary source of 
light when exploring the unlit areas in mud. The 
lantern is safer than an open flame as it doesn't ignite 
swamp gas! 

Firestones 

The glowing gems are used as light sources too, but 
^hey also have several side effects. Some are helpful — 
prevent your being summoned involuntarily — 
but others aren't so beneficial. 

The Horn 

The horn is another item which can be used once only, 
is used to summon another player and deposit him 
her in the same room as you — which is extremely 

Useful if you want to kill someone. 

^hile this list is by no means complete, it does give 
an idea of the variety available during a game of 

39 



TREASURE IN MUD 



MUD. None of the items listed above is worth that many 
points (except the oracle and the amulet before you use 
their magic) but through their correct use, clever 
players can locate various valuable treasures. There are 
some restrictions on the use of magical items, however. 
To use most of them you must be of a certain rank (or 
higher), which keeps new players from grabbing items 
which they'll have no idea of what to do with (it also 
gives them an incentive for reaching a higher level, so 
that they can try them out!). It's always interesting to 
watch your persona grow in strength as you play, and 
to explore your new capabilities as you ascend the 
ranks, towards wizard. 

Players will find that if they play in teams, mud 
becomes much easier. Working together, two players 
can accomplish a lot more in the same amount of time 
than if they weren't co-operating. Some players take a 
fiendish delight in double-crossing their former allies 
and making off with the loot, so choose your friends 
carefully. On top of that, wizards often intervene 
(meddle?), by forcing one member of a team to do 
something which causes the other member to doubt his 
reliability. Occasionally, gangs will form and terrorize 
the other players, who often develop their own gangs 
and so on. The multi-user aspect of mud is a lot of fun, 
and this sort of player-to-player interaction takes place 
all the time. 

Long sessions of play will eventually deplete the 
Land's supply of treasure and at that point, a wizard 
will reset the game. A reset forces all the players to quit 
the game and saves their persona. It then restores the 
Land to its original state, with all the treasure (and 
monsters!) put back in their starting positions (which 
may vary from game to game). A reset can be upsetting 
to players who have spent a lot of time to get to a 
specific area only to get chucked out of the game, so 
wizards will normally only reset the game if every 
player agrees to it. On the other hand, muds sometime^ 
need to reset themselves in which case you get ^ 
message Something magical is happening . . 
In that case you will leave the game, and will be able to 
restart in two or three minutes. If this happens an<i 
you lose many points, a friendly wizard will be happ^ 

40 



TREASURE IN MUD 



to help you regain lost points. This doesn't happen too 
often though, but to be safe you should type in SAVE 
every tinie you drop some treasure in the swamp or 
score a lot of points. If there are no wizards about and 
the game has run out of treasure, there is a way in some 
MUDS to allow mortals to reset the game. It's currently 
a 'reset button' hidden deep in the mine, which only 
works if the majority of the treasures are in the swamp 
and if no-one else is playing. This prevents mortals 
who can find the button from making life a misery for 
everyone else, by resetting the game once a minute. 



41 



8 



WIZARDS AND WITCHES 



mud's multi-user capabilities set it aside from normal 
adventure games. There are many of these features, for 
example communication, interaction by way of giving, 
stealing, kissing and of course the great favourite, 
killing your fellow players. These are the reasonably 
direct consequences of having more than one person 
playing in the same world at the same time. The most 
significant development, however, is in an entirely 
different vein. It is the concept of a wizard/witch. 

Since 'wizard/ witch' is a bit of a mouthful, and since 
MUD players are too fastidious to tolerate the type 
mismatch involved in calling a male a witch or a female 
a wizard, the MUDspeke term 'wiz' has been coined to 
mean wizard/witch generically. You never know, by 
1999 it might have got into the OED. It's possible to 
make wiz in four or five games if you get absolutely all 
fhe treasure. Indeed, you can make it in only one game 
if you don't mind kicking the beggar 102,400 times! 
Once you've reached wiz, however, the game changes. 

It's not fair to say the game actually changes, it's still 
the same mud, it's just that once you're a wiz it takes on 
^ new perspective. If mud were an ordinary adventure, 
you could expect at this point some kind of 'endgame', 
^nd that would be it. But mud is not an ordinary 
^dventure, and reaching wiz is where the fun really 
^^gins! When you're a wiz, you have power. You can 
^o virtually anything. A forbidding array of commands 



43 



WIZARDS AND WITCHES 



WIZARDS AND WITCHES 



lies at your fingertips. These are so virulent that it's 
easy to crash the game if you're not careful. Once 
people make it to wiz in the early versions of mud, for 
the next couple of days the game crashes with mono^ 
tonous regularity until they learn the ropes. Fortu- 
nately, one of the first commands they learn is how to 
reset the game so that they can unscrew all the 
problems they've caused! 

Of course, in any commercial version of mud this 
sort of thing has to be toned down a bit, otherwise 
you'd get people from rival games companies making 
wiz and keeping your world in a perpetual state of 
destruction. Since mud has no competition as yet, 
though, this fragility is left unchecked to give the 
'mortals' (non-wiz) a little more incentive to get those 
few elusive points that they need to reach the top. 

Most wiz commands remain in the commercial mud, 
however. Some are powerful, yet not dangerous, for 
example SNOOP. This enables you to see what is on the 
screen of any mortal you choose, exactly as it appears 
to them. In effect, everything mud sends to their 
terminal is copied and sent to yours too (in addition to 
the stuff you'd normally get). Of course, you can't 
snoop on someone who is snooping on someone else, 
otherwise it's possible to get into a sort of feedback 
loop, which wouldn't do the game much good at all! 
SNOOP is one of the most popular wiz commands, and 
it's normal for wizzes to be snooping on a mortal full- 
time. The reason it's so good is that there's a certain 
wicked human fascination for watching other people 
making complete idiots of themselves as they try to go 
about doing things completely the wrong way. 

Other reasonably safe commands include the ability 
to pick up or drop objects anywhere you like without 
having to move there. And if a wizard did feel the need 
to make an appearance, he could materialise instanta- 
neously rather than take the normal walking sort of 
route which mortals are obliged to use. There are a few 
rooms, in fact, which are impossible to reach except by 
teleportation. These are the STORE, full of useful spare 
items which you might want players to come across 
(like zombies, for example); HOME, the wiz room where 
you can sit and SNOOP on mortals without their even 



j^nowing you're in the game (since HOME is cloaked 
from their view); LIMBO, an exit-less room which 
corresponds to a sort of 'sin-bin', a place to dump 
mortals who are annoying you to cool off, leaving them 
to languish until you deign to release them; and 
XMASBX, which contains all you need for a merry 
Christmas, and which wizzes distribute to players 
when they feel the seasonal urge to do a bit of goodwill 
to all mankind. 

These abilities are reasonably harmless; tormenting 
mortals by sitting around in HOME, SNOOPing on them 
and dropping strange objects in the room you think 
they're about to enter is the sort of fun thing wizzes do 
all the time. Some of the things they can do are not 
harmless, though. Primary among these is the POD. 
This stands for Finger Of Death, and what it does is 
more or less obvious from that! Once you're FODed 
you're DEAD DEAD, ie. you lose all your points, your 
persona is destroyed, and you have to start again from 
scratch. Wizzes mainly POD each other, since they can 
come back straight away using a password on wiz 
mode. Once you've made wiz, you just say the 
password and you're back to wiz again. Sometimes, 
though, if mortals really play up a lot and pester you 
despite your ominous warnings of the dark and mys- 
terious things you're going to do to them, you might 
use your POD on them as a last resort. 

Wizzes, although all-powerful, are meant to be 
generally benign. Most of what is done to mortals is 
really just to tease them, and they are generally 
rewarded by a few points or some treasure once the wiz 
has finished play. Mortals don't have much say in the 
niatter, naturally, but are spurred on by the knowledge 
that when they finally make wiz, they'll be able to dish 
out similar treatment to hapless, innocent victims! 

There is an unwritten code of conduct which wizzes 
follow, and which works because the wizzes were once 
portals themselves. Wizzes know all too well what it's 
like to be summoned to a cold, dark room and left 
^lone with hehehe ringing in their ears. They know 
Jhe disappointment of forging through the swamp for 
V^lf an hour only to find that someone has swapped the 
incredibly valuable crown in the centre for a fake one. 



44 



45 



WIZARDS AND WITCHES 



They've felt the pangs of outrage from being attacked 
by a souped-up bunny rabbit which it takes fifteen 
minutes to kill. In short, they know when to stop. 

Wizards should be treated with respect without 
being fawning. Most wizards will be happy to assist a 
mortal who is in desperate trouble or who finds a 
needed item which is beyond mortal grasp. However, 
nothing annoys a wizard more than a mortal begging 
for treasure because he or she can't work out how to 
find it, or asking to be transported to a different area of 
MUD because the player is too lazy (or scared) to make 
the journey alone. A wizard is not a Santa Claus nor a 
taxi service; on the other hand, wizards are (usually!) 
benign and they listen to reasonable requests for help 
from hardworking players, as well as preventing them 
from doing something disastrous now and then. 

The wiz-code makes for a very flexible system, and 
it gives wizards a lot of freedom. A certain amount of 
trust is involved between each wizard and the game's 
owners. Mortals can complain to 'higher' authorities if 
they feel they've suffered unjustly at the hands of a 
wizard, and if that wiz's name becomes associated with 
unfair play, then he or she will certainly face severe 
reprimands. It's a system that looks very open to 
abuse, but on the whole it seems to work well. 

A total exceeding fifty thousand hours of play has 
been spent on mud, and if any single point arises from 
that it's that wizzes make the game. They rule it, they 
stamp their personalities on it, and they give mortals 
something to aim for, a goal, a purpose, something 
which explains why they're in there hacking and 
slaying. Without wizzes, mud would only be half the 
fun that it is with them. If mud does nothing else for 
multi-user adventure games except for evolving the 
concept of a wiz, it should always be remembered. 



46 



9 



PLACES IN THE LAND 



MUD has been growing in size since it was written, as 
Richard Bartle, the game's co-author and current 
maintainer, expands and modifies it. The mud running 
on university computers now consists of about four 
hundred rooms, and the commercial version is made 
up of over one thousand rooms, some of which came 
from the university version. It's a bit much to get to 
grips with, so MUSE, who run the commercial version 
of mud, have thoughtfully provided an incomplete map 
with every starter-pack they sell. Using this, you'll be 
able to find your way around and soon you'll be adding 
to the map as your explorations carry you further into 
the unknown. Only when you make it to wizard do 
MUSE supply you with a map showing all mud's 
locations. 

Upon your first game of mud, visit the gravedigger's 
cottage which is west and south of the starting 
position. After that, a trip to the swamp is in order (in 
case you have found some treasure, or just for the 
experience). Getting to the swamp is usually no 
problem, all you need do is type SWAMP (or GO SWAMP) 
^nd MUD will determine the proper direction for you. 
This doesn't work for any locations apart from the 
swamp though, so you can't type GO ISLAND and 
expect to get there. To reach the island, you have to 
descend a very steep cliff and traverse some fairly 
treacherous waters on a small raft. One slip, and you'll 
drown (losing all your treasure), but since you're not 
'^EAD DEAD you can come back into the game, Httle the 

47 



PLACES IN THE LAND 



worse for wear. Watch out for the shark though, 
because it's quite capable of kiUing you (DEAD DEAD 
this time!) and it's very, very nasty. Once you finally 
reach the island, you have to avoid the dragon, which 
will most certainly slaughter you if it happens upon 
you (or you happen upon it!). And for what do you 
endure these hardships? Beneath the ring of stones lies 
a cache of druidical treasure of fantastic value, but to 
get to it you must first solve a number of — often 
deadly — puzzles. 

In the original version of mud running on Compunet 
and at Essex University, insofar as mud has places 
which you can put dates to, everything gets older the 
further away from the Start that you wander. Thus the 
house has a 1930s' look while to the far north of the 
mainland the disused railway line and tin mine have a 
post-Industrial Revolution feel. The galleon out at sea 
gives the impression of being related to the Mary Rose^ 
conjuring up visions of swashbuckling pirates and 
smugglers. 

Underneath the mainland in places like the dwarven 
realm we seem to enter a Tolkien-like world of Middle 
Earth while, further afield, in places like the shrine, or 
the druid chamber beneath the ring of stones on the 
island there are echoes of an Arthurian Britain: objects 
like the chalice, sacrificial stone slabs and extremely 
powerful magic reinforce this impression. Some 
players associate the Island of Woe with its enormous 
arch, which bestows temporary invisibility on those 
who pass through it, with Grecian myths. 

The new mud is not so clear-cut in its layout. For a 
start it incorporates valley, the mini-MUD consisting of 
around a hundred rooms, which currently lies directly 
east of Start. In Essex and Compunet mud, if you go 
east from Start, however (you squeeze through the 
narrow gap . .), you find yourself out of the game 
and you have to re-enter via valley or mud. Only 
wizards can hop from one game to the other with the 
command SUPERGO — and even they can't carry 
objects with them from one game to the other (the 
databases couldn't take it). In the new mud, even 
mortals can wander freely between the two Lands and, 
since players begin the game in random locations (the 



gerousness of which is related to their current 
el) the feeling that everything begins at Start 
h uld dissipate. Most of the new mud's additions are 

•d to lie north of valley and north-east of mud, 
^Jnueh at the time of writing rumours abound of a vast 

furbishing taking place to the desolate Admiral 
Sonbow Inn in valley and of new tunnels bemg dug 
HeeP within the mine to allow greater interconnection. 
There is also rumour of a great realm in the mountams 
vhere fabulous treasure awaits those brave enough to 
climb there. There is only one thing for it — you have 
to explore it for yourself. 

It's very important to make detailed, complete maps 
on your journey to wizdom. If you don't try all the 
possible exits from every location, you'll surely miss 
many important locations, perhaps even whole por- 
tions of the Land. And what's the point of slogging 
through a difficult maze, only to have to solve it again 
next time, because you don't remember how you 
managed before? 



49 



Another very popular zvtz command is 
FORCE. If you SHOUT in MUD all the 
other players see what youWe saying on 
their screens. So if you type Force Asterix: 
shout I am a total wally, everyone gets the 
message Asterix shouts 'I am a total 
wally'/ 



10 



DAEMONS 



Many times during a game of mud, strange and 
inexplicable events occur. Known to the game's 
authors as daemons, these events are triggered off by 
some specific event. Some take quite a while to take 
effect, the longest being nearly half an hour from the 
initial action to the end result. During the delay, play 
continues in the normal fashion. For example, if your 
persona comes across a bottle of rum and drinks it, 
nothing will happen, not to start with anyway. After a 
few minutes, however, you'll find your persona is 
falling asleep, stumbling backwards and basically trip- 
ping over its own feet like any inebriated adventurer. 
There are two ways to recover from this, one of which 
is to leave the game. The other is a little quicker, if 
more gruesome, and I'll let you discover that for 
yourself. 

Daemons are not rarities that crop up once in a 
while, they appear in every area of the game. When 
you wave the bow and baton and are magically 
teleported, that is a daemon. When you ZAP a monster 
with the wand, or fire a cannon and destroy a door, 
tiiat is a daemon. Daemons are used to make things 
happen in mud. When you type OPEN the door, a 
daemon in mud will open the door in question, but the 
P^ore memorable daemons are usually very surprising, 

that certain actions generate results that are far from 
Predictable. Daemons can be hilarious, uncanny or 
downright deadly. 



53 



DAEMONS 



The item which has the most daemons associated 
with it is the wand, and many, many weird things can 
happen if you use it improperly, or in unusual circum- 
stances. If you wave the wand, while carrying the 
marble pillar, be prepared for a humorous (if painful) 
example of a daemon. Snake poison is a daemon which 
takes a good deal of time to run its course. If you fail to 
counteract it, it will kill you (not permanently though). 
Before you pass away, you will begin to feel ill, get 
dizzy and your vision will blur. In other words your 
persona will begin to feel very, very sick. 

Not all daemons are harmful or inconvenient, some- 
times they are used by mud to bestow points on players 
for doing the right thing at the right time. If you 
manage to repair the sundial and get it to tell you the 
time, a surprising sequence of events will ensue that 
will leave you with about fifty more points than before. 
Or, more impressively, there is the hidden fountain, 
which if found and swum in, will bestow upwards of a 
thousand points on you. 

Basically daemons account for everything that hap- 
pens in a game of mud. Mastery of the game requires 
that you learn about them, how to activate them and 
what they do. Soon daemons will no longer come as 
complete surprises, and you'll be able to use them to 
your advantage in the game, thus increasing your 
chances of success (and dazzling the other players as 
well). A hint for you: the dragon is killed via a daemon, 
and knowledgeable players can easily do away with it. 



54 



II 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



There are two particular kinds of problem commonly 
encountered in adventure programs which typically 
cause tempers to become frayed and arguments to 
develop the moment they are discussed. You either 
love them or you hate them — and liking one has no 
influence on whether or not you'll like the other. I'm 
referring to the notions of mazes and logic puzzles. 

What is the sort of problem you normally get in an 
adventure game? Well even in a multi-player one like 
MUD, the basic arrangement is that you have a collec- 
tion of objects, the presence and properties of which 
either allow or disallow the execution of commands 
(which I'll call actions). Actions, once carried out, alter 
certain objects in predefined ways, and so create a 
different set of restrictions which determine what 
actions can be performed afterwards. 

So a closed door might restrict you from performing 
the GO west action, say. In order to GO west you need 
to perform some action which changes the state of the 
door such that it is no longer closed, and the obvious 
one is something like UNLOCK door with key. Once 
you have performed this action, the property of the 
door is changed such that a modified set of actions is 
^ow executable, including some new ones (GO west is 
now OK) but excluding some old ones (UNLOCK door 
^ith key won't work this time!). 



55 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



So, you can look on actions as having preconditions, 
which are tests on the objects required for the action to 
be satisfactorily carried out. One precondition of 
opening the door with the keys is that you have to have 
the keys, and if you haven't then you'd have to give 
some command which made it so you did have them 
(GET keys from bag, perhaps). 

This is a very basic outline of the mechanism behind 
adventures, and put this way it sounds pretty mun- 
dane. The skill and fun in playing comes from impos- 
ing an interesting structure on the actions and objects, 
so that you're not mindlessly trying out all possible 
commands but can use your intelligence to find the 
right thing to do. Without this logical structure 
binding the universe together, there's no guarantee 
that any command might do something. Common 
sense might dictate that INVENTORY isn't likely to open 
a door for you, so you probably wouldn't try it (unless 
you were absolutely desperate!), but if you treat it like 
any other action then why shouldn't it? It's just 
another command. Why shouldn't something like 
CLOSE door with keys open the door either, come to 
that? 

It's because of this logical structure, of course. You 
assume that the players have a certain collection of 
common commands at their disposal, and you try to 
mimic these commands so they behave as the players 
expect. So making the command to open a door, 
CLOSE, is generally regarded as the result of not having 
been to sleep the previous four nights! Things like 
having INVENTORY open a door should be accom- 
panied by generous clues; not so basic as a scroll 
reading DO AN INVENTORY IN ROOM X AND IT'LL OPEN 
THE DOOR perhaps, but certainly it would be OK to 
have something which noted the remarkable similarity 
between the body movements needed to do an inven- 
tory and those needed for an OPEN door spell. Even 
CLOSE for OPEN might be acceptable in an 'inverted' 
world, such as through a mirror. 

Take puzzles, for example. When you need to solve 
the problem 2 + 2 = ? to get through the door, well that's 
easy enough, it's, er, 4, but what if they were much 
harder? What is the square root of 6. 023. 921 . 

56 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



31 9. 047. 472. 771. 692. 203. 936. 249? It 
light take some time to figure out that it's 77, 613, 
28 2493 503, 307. Or what about Name the 142. 
gl2th prime number? Or cracking a substitution code? 

These are problems which have occurred in mud. 
viuD has a room, the mausoleum, with other rooms off 
Each of these rooms (tombs) is accessible only 
through one door (unless you're a wiz, when you can 
fly there of course!), and on the door is a puzzle. Solve 
the puzzle, the door opens, and in you rush to claim 
your reward. 

Not all the puzzles are pure computation, of course, 
some of them are 'armchair' ones which you can solve 
on the spot if you're quick. These can be things like 
the Roman numeral substitution of 1 04 , 49. be 
polite or involve well known sequences scrumpled 
up in some way (AnEbArPrAyUnUl ?? — months of the 
year). The mausoleum has gone through several gener- 
ations of problems (all of which were/are original), 
because it turns out that this kind of thing is not 
suitable in multi-user games. Put bluntly, people 
exchange answers with each other so readily that it's 
only a couple of days after one of them has been 
cracked before everyone knows! Even if you don't tell 
people, the chances are that someone will SNOOP on 
you while you're in the mausoleum typing in the fruits 
of your hard-earned labour, and then distribute the 
answers to whoever wants to know! 

There are constraints on what the answers may be, 
too. Numeric answers must be pretty big or people will 
lust type in all the likely integers until they get the one 
which is right. 

Apart from the mausoleum, mud has no other 
problems of this kind. They are kept in their place, 
where they can't interfere with the rest of play, but 
some players love them! Especially since what is in 
^ach room behind the doors varies between games and 
you never know quite what to expect there. 

But why is it most people do prefer to give away 
^hese solutions, when they keep the usual kind of 
^swer to the 'how do you get to room X' problems to 
^^mselves? It is, of course, because the majority of 

57 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



them find it intensely irritating not to be able to g^^ 
some treasure just because of a smarmy problem which 
they know how to solve but which takes them ages to 
do, or which they can't 'see' instantaneously and which 
has no clue that would hint at the answer. 

Their objection is that you need 'outside' knowledge 
to solve the wretched things. Outside knowledge is 
needed anyway, but it's one thing to assume people 
know that keys, and not bottles of medicine, open 
doors, and another to assume they can solve second- 
order differential equations. At least with normal 
problems you can try every possible combination of 
objects until you get the one which opens the door, but 
unless you are informed that the number sequence was 
treble scores on a dartboard, or that the letters were 
initials of streets on Monopoly board, you'd never 
solve a logic puzzle. 

However, you can have raging arguments with 
people who adore this 'IQ' stuff, as for them it breaks 
up the monotony of 'find it and try it' play — 
something anyone else in a multi-user game would do 
by talking! 

In normal adventure games the reaction to a maze is 
something like 'oh no, not another one!'. There's no 
problem-solving to be done, you see, it's a cinch to 
solve mazes once you know how, but it takes ages. The 
situation is similar to having two objects which need to 
be in a certain room together but which are positioned 
as far away from that room and each other as possible; 
it's just trekking time to get them to the same place, 
and there's no intellectual difficulty in that! Some 
mazes might be tricky — they spell out a magic word 
or something — but they still need to be mapped. The 
standard technique of dropping objects to work out 
which room you're in and then trying all directions is ^ 
pretty boring occupation, especially if you just know 
there's a pirate or a magpie or something that's going 
to pick up some stuff and muck you up, secreting the 
booty away somewhere for you to seek out later. 

In comparison with the dismal translation of logi^ 
problems into mud, which (if you can comprehend 
such an idea!) are even worse here than in norm^' 

58 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



^jyentures, the translation of mazes works quite well! 
iviUD has two major mazes and two minor ones. The 
jjiinor ones are small, four or five rooms, and stop 
people from dropping objects in them to make maps by 
^e simple expedient of not letting them take any in 
with them! Including a light source! They're fairly 
easy to solve, and they ought to be because in general 
you want to get back quick because you left a pile of 
essential items outside before entering! 

The major maze which is entered the most in mud is 
the graveyard, which isn't really a maze at all because 
you can never get lost in it, it's just confusing (you 
think you're lost!). It comprises around ten rooms, but 
there are no loops. That means that if you're in, say, 
the third room then seven directions will take you back 
to the third room and one will take you to the fourth 
room, and so on. So by trying random directions you'll 
eventually get through (it takes about three goes 
'round the clock' — N. NE, E, SE. ... — to work 
through). There's even a magical item to help you, a 
statuette of a lion with 'Drop me in the garden of death 
to find the path' written on it. So why is it confusing? 
Because when you return to a room, the description 
changes. If you give a dud direction and wind up back 
where you were, it's hard to tell because the gravestone 
has changed (gravestones bear the names and epitaphs 
of wizzes). The description even changes if you LOOK! 
So it's hard to find out what room you're in unless you 
take a whole sackful of goodies with you so you can tell 
the rooms apart. 

And this, of course, is where mud's multi-user aspect 
comes in! As there are no loops it's pretty easy to 
follow someone without their knowing you're there, 
^d hence you can clear up after them, collecting their 
objects. They're not going to get back to pick them up 
for some time, so it's quite easy — especially if you 
know the way already! This was a design decision for 
the graveyard, to exploit mud's multi-user capabilities 
' the maze is easy to solve, but risky! There's no 
^indless, animated pirate to nick your treasure and 
hide it away, but instead the awful possibility of a real 
Person grabbing hold of it and putting it where you'll 
^ever find it ever again! 



59 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



The graveyard was put to great use by Gwyn the 
Wizard in his mortal days while he was working hi^ 
way up to that exalted rank. It's quite easy for novice^ 
to wander in accidentally^ and it takes them a while to 
find how to get out (you type the direction OUT!). So 
Gwyn would wait at the start of the maze, slaughter 
anyone who wandered in, then run deeper in and go to 
sleep. Going to sleep gets you back lost stamina points 
from fights, and is usually very dangerous in case 
anyone stumbles across you. But who is going to find 
you in a maze? 

mud's other major maze is not so easy, though. It\ 
possibly the most devious, cunning part of the whole 
game and exploits to the full the fact that there is more 
than one person playing at once. Most people don't 
even realise it's a maze as it's well disguised, although 
some regulars have heard rumours of the incredibly 
valuable crown said to lie in the centre. Of those who 
know its true meaning, only a handful have ever made 
it to the middle except by sheer accident, but the 
reward has been worth is. This maze is the swamp. 

The swamp in mud, in case you've forgotten is 
where you drop treasure to score points. If you have 
something valuable, worth eighty points say, then you 
don't score for it until you drop it in the swamp (yes, 
also a good place for ambushes!). It then sinks to the 
bottom and is out of play for everyone. Now if the 
swamp is a maze, how do you map a maze? Easy, drop 
stuff in so that when you return to a room you know 
you've been there before. Only what happens to things 
you drop in the swamp? Yes, they sink! There arc 
absolutely no objects in mud which you can let go of in 
the swamp and be able to see, they all sink. Not quite 
everything sinks in the swamp: players don't. If you 
want to map the swamp you have to use real people as 
markers. You can't do that in a normal adventure 
game! Just to make it harder, the route through the 
swamp changes every game. There are scores ol 
possible ways through, though, but only one of them i^ 
the one for the particular game you're in at any instant 
So mapping the swamp in one game to get througl^ 
again in the next is not on! 



60 



PUZZLES AND MAZES 



What's the reward for your efforts, then? Well in a 
drier part of the swamp, some seven or eight rooms in 
({I varies) is the crown. Unless some wiz watching your 
pioneering progress was wicked enough to substitute it 
^ith the dummy crown from the wiz's STORE, you now 
have the most valuable treasure in mud! The people 
vvho acted as markers have nothing for their pains, 
tjiough, and will need bribing with lesser treasures to 
stop them lynching you (unless you quit pretty soon 
after you drop the crown, but then they'll rip you to 
pieces in the next game!). 

Mazes transfer over to multi-user games quite well. 
In ordinary games they're boring at the best of times, 
but multi-user aspects make them actually quite enjoy- 
able! Contrast this with the case for logic puzzles, 
which are much worse in muds than in single-user 
games. It is interesting to speculate on the effects of 
porting other single-user features into multi-user 
games. This is a side-effect of the shift in perspective 
which mud's unique multi-user capabilities provide — 
things to be solved by individuals don't work as well as 
things to be solved in teams. It's as if the players want 
to help each other, but are thwarted in single-user 
games by the fact there's no-one else there! 



61 



12 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



The whole point about multi-player adventures is that 
you're playing in the same game as other people, 
possibly complete strangers in real life, but whom you 
encounter during play and with whom you are likely to 
engage in conversation. If you spend a fair amount of 
time in the game chatting to other players, then, as 
with other similar forms of social interaction (school, 
work, holiday), you will strike up friendships and get 
to know folk. 

You'll also get to hear of certain other players quite a 
lot, by virtue of their interesting behaviour. If you see 
someone acting really strangely, then you'll naturally 
want to talk to other people about them; if something 
terrible happens to another player, you'll want to pass 
on the bad (or good!) news; if a wiz is a soft touch, your 
friends should know, and similarly if they FODded you 
for merely daring to utter a meek request for a lit 
brand, you may wish to warn your acquaintances! 

In MUD, with its strange ability to magnify the 
personalities of those who play, there are plenty of 
people to talk about. Stories about individuals are 
passed on, rumours circulate, myths form, and eventu- 
ally certain players become part and parcel of the game 
^^^self, blending in with the unique mud atmosphere 
^Irnost as if they had been programmed in! 

This short set of biographies introduces you to some 
^f mud's classic players, who have made their mark in 



63 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



mud's folklore for one reason or another, and whose 
names live on, even, as is the case with some of them, if 
they haven't actually been able to play for years. They 
are all wizzes: the reason is that you have to play for 
quite a while for people to get to know your person- 
ality, and even longer for them to relate stories about 
your endeavours to each other (rather in the manner of 
Anglo-saxon bards, who wrote ballads about deeds of 
derring-do, to be sung in the mead hall on cold, dark 
nights, perpetuating the names of heroes long since 
departed). So to become some kind of legendary 
figure, you have to play for many hours; if you do play 
for that long then either you'll eventually make it up to 
wiz, or you're incredibly thick, or extremely unlucky! 

The reason some of these people have two names is 
because you're allowed two as a wiz. One is normally 
your real name, the other the one which you used to 
work up to wiz. For some, the personalities are distinct 
(Sue the Witch is much nastier playing as Endora), but 
for most they're just synonyms. Here is an assortment 
of MUD players for you. 

SUE THE WITCH 

There cannot be the slightest doubt in anyone's mind 
about mud's greatest player — Sue the Witch, also 
known as Endora. Sue played mud all the hours God 
sent. As soon as mud became playable at around i am 
(at Essex University), Sue went into the Land. Sue 
would remain there for as long as possible before the 
need to sleep overcame all. Sue did this every night, 
too! It was a matter of concern if neither Sue nor 
Endora appeared — people began to wonder what had 
happened. She might have been playing incognito as a 
mortal, of course, but sometimes it was more serious 
(Sue missed a couple of days after a riding accident). 
Such is Sue's dedication and enthusiasm for the game 
that it took her only four weeks to become a witch, 
from a complete novice. Sue was killed on several 
occasions, too, and had to restart from nothing. She 
had an intimate knowledge of the way mud functioned, 
and must have tried out virtually every command 
(swinging the cat in a small room, setting fire to the 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



]^eg of gunpowder, lighting a torch with a dragon, etc.). 
pew other people will have ever seen the message you 
get when you attempt to, say, walk the wolf, because 
i^ey have never tried it. 

The other wizzes didn't always see eye to eye with 
Sue, because she had so much experience at play that if 
another wiz slipped up. Sue would tick them off about 
it, and often appeared quite bossy! The mortals, 
however, loved her! She knew just the right kind of 
hints to give that didn't exactly spell out the solution to 
a problem but rather pointed the way to a solution 
(well what do you think you do to idols?!). Sue 
also protected them from the ravages of supernatural 
intervention (I 've just been attacked by the shark 
- in the forest!). It was mainly Sue's uncanny 
knack of making the game fun to play that earned her 
the reputation of epitomising the Essex mud. 



JEZ THE WIZARD 

Jez the Wizard, or Zaphod as he is occasionally known, 
was mud's first external mud wiz (an external is 
someone who is playing mud from a site removed from 
the host system). Being one of those people who has 
contacts absolutely everywhere, he heard of mud fairly 
soon after Essex University opened it to the public and 
he took to it like a duck to water. After several months 
of glorious bloodletting, and suitably impressive tele- 
phone bills, this precocious seventeen-year-old (as he 
Was then) made it up to wiz. Now he is mud's most 
senior active wizard after Richard Bartle, and along 
with Sue is trusted enough to be allowed to use an 
arch- wizard persona called DEBUGGER. This is a very 
powerful character, used only for debugging purposes 
(surprise!), to fix problems like people forgetting 
Passwords, or some drunk wiz causing chaos (yes, it 
does happen!). 

Jez has a huge circle of friends in the modem-using 
^9^munity (you might call them 'hackers' if you 
didn't know the proper meaning of the word), and he 
^^st have told just about all of them about mud. It was 
Mainly due to his influence, and that of one of his close 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



friends, Thor (also a wiz), that mud caught on in the 
outside world. People took his advice, tried the game^ 
liked it, and told their friends. Whenever they looked 
in, Jez was in there to greet them with a cheery H i ya^ 
and eventually people got to know him more as Je^ 
than by his real name, Jeremy. Nowadays, if he doesn't 
sign his letters ']ez\ most people do a double-take 
before they remember who he is! Talk about games 
taking over lives. 

Jez, in fact, follows all the goings-on in mud with the 
devotion of a soap-opera fan. Probably more so, as he's 
actually in a position to alter the plot! So he knows the 
last time Egor played and why he's not around at the 
moment. He knows what it was that made Sue and 
Kronos fall out (and was the one who patched it up 
again). If there's anything approaching a scandal, Jez is 
there, ears flapping, hoping to pick up some titbit of 
information which he can then loudly publicise! 

It follows, then, that Jez is immensely popular! 
There's nothing people like more than a good gossip, 
and Jez is the one to see about that! Even the people 
who are the butt of his stories tend not to mind, 
because he does it all very nicely, and besides, it's not 
long before he's dragging someone else's name through 
the dirt. Or through the mud, perhaps. 

EGOR THE WIZARD 

The second external player to make it to wiz was Egor. 
Egor has been fascinated by computers ever since his 
father bought him an electronics kit when he was eight. 
By the age of eleven he'd constructed his own 
computer. 

Egor is brilliant at discovering any 'bugs' lurking in 
MUD — but before dutifully reporting them he exploits 
them to the maximum. One day he discovered a back- 
door method of logging in as another persona (norm- 
ally all personas are password protected). He instantly 
logged in as Jez (his usual sparring partner), went 
round mud for half an hour, insulting everyone, killing 
off novices and generally behaving like an oaf before 
quitting the game. When the real Jez rolled up an houf 

66 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



later he was almost lynched by a collection of furious 
players! 

Another 'bug' which Egor exploited is the fact that 
wizards can pick up any object in the game and imbue 
li with fighting characteristics. Thus if you suddenly 
find yourself attacked by the sundial you'll know a 
wizard is playing tricks. One night Egor did this with 
the river which flows through the Land. Then he 
teleported into a room full of mortals shouting 'Oh no! 
It's that Killer River again!'. The terrified and 
bewildered mortals then witnessed a titanic struggle 
between Egor the Wizard and the river before the river 
finally 'expired' and Egor proudly announced 'Phew! I 
saved you!'. 

While working his way up as a mortal, Egor found 
after thirty-six hours of continuous play even he 
couldn't keep his eyes open. But unable to bear the 
thought of missing out on the game, he wrote a little 
program to run round the fixed points of valley, doing 
specific things which earned a few points and SAVEing 
his character (as has been pointed out, you could 
theoretically become a wizard by kicking the beggar for 
hours on end), while he went to bed. He thought his 
behaviour would go undetected because almost always 
when MUD is running at Essex, the players go there 
rather than the valley. However, his sneaky ploy was 
uncovered by a local wiz having a snoop, and when 
Egor returned to his terminal, refreshed from a few 
hours' sleep, he discovered that some pretty unplea- 
sant things had been done to him by the wiz, who 
strongly disapproved of this 'unsporting behaviour'. It 
Was Egor, too, who forced Richard Bartle to amend 
^UD so that people couldn't quit in the middle of a 
fight as he discovered that if something unpleasant 
happened to him (such as getting on the wrong side of 
the dragon), he could rescue himself by QUITting. 

PELICITY AND CYNTHIA 

J^elicity and Cynthia were the names chosen by Mark 
i-ongley, an internal to Essex University and an addict 
science fiction books (he reads about one a day). He 
Picked these names because they were the two most 

67 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



terrible names he could think of at the time (Christabel 
was top long, and someone was already using Char- 
lene). The idea was that people would find the names 
such dreadfiil cliches that they would avoid him at all 
costs. So successful was his ploy that most people 
couldn't bear to talk to him even at a distance, and thcv 
dropped the obnoxious, lengthy versions in favour of 
the more favourable Fliss and Cinth, depending on 
which he was using at the time. Indeed, the reason mud 
has a flower in it was because you could then pick it 
up, give it to him, and say Hiya. Cinth!. 

After winning mud's very first spectacular (see the 
following chapter), and getting 25,000 points for so 
doing, Fliss soon made it to witch, and became one of 
the kindest, most responsible wizzes of all time. It is 
common knowledge that Sue's great success as a witch 
is based on her trying to follow Fliss's lead. Asking 
yourself 'What would Fliss have done in this situ- 
ation?' can be a good way to see sense (although Fliss 
himself would probably find that highly amusing!). 

Mark left the University a couple of years ago, but 
Fliss and Cinth still get mentioned from time to time, 
and there's always the entry in the graveyard. What 
does it say? 'A spectacular life lead me here', of course! 

FOXY THE WIZARD 

The name of Foxy the Wizard lives on in mud not 
because of the way he made it to wiz, but because of 
the way he didn't. Also an internal to the University, 
Foxy spent many long hours clawing his way up 
through the ranks. He always behaved impeccably? 
only killing people in self-defence (well, nearly 
always!), and he knew the game inside out by virtue of 
enormous mud sessions lasting all weekend. Everyone 
agreed that if anyone deserved to reach wiz at all, then 
that person was Foxy. It was merely a case of mistaken 
identity, then, one assumes, when five people am- 
bushed him in the graveyard and killed him when 
had less than 300 to go of the 102,400 points needed 
reach wiz. The self-control exhibited by Foxy in not 
jumping from the nearest tall building, or sending 
letter bombs to all concerned, earned him great r^' 



spect. He didn't shed a tear, just started again from 
scratch with great dignity and killed three or four of 
i;he rotten so-and-sos instead with a handy sword, 
thoughtfully provided by a sympathetic wizard. 

His eventual rise to immortality was not, it turns 
out, via the normal channels; rather he was elected to 
wiz for his work on rock, mud's version of ITV's 
praggle Rock TV show. Real name Phil Fox, he's now 
a teacher at a nearby school, and occasionally returns 
to hack and slay in mud. 

EVIL THE WIZARD 

Evil the Wizard was the first person to work his way 
up to that immortal status, rather than be made one 
straight away for debugging purposes. He also set a 
trend, since followed by three other Welsh wizards 
(despite being called Phil Scott in real life!). A 
surprising number of mud devotees are of Welsh 
extraction, although only four have made it to wiz so 
far at Essex; it must be their barbarian blood (the 
nationality breakdown of Essex University wizards in 
late 1984 was forty English, five Scottish, four Welsh, 
one Irish, one American, one Czech and one 
Malasian!). 

Evil made it to wiz in real style. His thorough 
knowledge of the finer details of the mud world is 
unsurpassed, except by Richard Bartle and probably 
Sue, and he must still be about the only player who 
figured out by himself what you're supposed to do 
with the ox (stroke it, take it to the sacrificial blade, 
stroke it, kill it with the blade, stroke it again, then 
drop it in the swamp for the points!). If you wanted to 
get to any room from any other, no matter how far 
^way, he could give you the shortest route almost 
instantly. This was despite the fact that he laboured 
Under a tremendous disability; east-west dyslexia. 

It is for this that Evil is best known. His entire in- 
ttie-head map of mud, and all those he wrote down on 
Psper, were flipped east for west. His misapprehension 
^xtended to commands, so if he wanted to go west 
f^om the start, which is to the left, he'd think it was to 
right, and that the command for going to the right 



68 



60 



WHO'S WHO IN MUD 



was west. So he'd get it correct, but in the wrong way! 
So absolutely everything was inverted, in a kind of 
'Evil through the looking-glass'. Indeed, when Ri- 
chard Bartle finally found out about his error he put a 
looking-glass in mud to celebrate! Evil didn't realise his 
mistake for years after he'd made it to wiz, and if 
people used left/right descriptions of rooms instead of 
west/east, he just thought they were barmy. Only when 
Richard drew a map of mud on a blackboard did he 
finally discover his gaffe, and to this day thinks a 
subtle change in the physics of the universe caused 
everyone in the world to swap east for west in their 
heads except for him, who remained unaffected due to 
his enormous and obvious intelligence. 



These, then, are a few brief sketches of players in the 
Essex MUD. MUDS will always have their resident 
personalities no matter where they are or who runs 
them, because people are the game. That's what lifts 
MUD above the rest of the world's computer games, the 
real-live people who play. Anyone who has played in 
the Essex mud, the Oslo mud, the Compunet mud and 
the short-lived Dundee mud, will tell you that, 
although they are identical programs, they 'play' quite 
differently. People brought up on Compunet mud are 
horrified by Essex's large number of killings — they're 
much friendlier when they pay to play the game. Essex 
people are astonished by the easy-going wizzes in Oslo, 
who have even been known temporarily to promote 
mortals so they can see what it's like being a wiz 
(gasp!). The players make the game. 

That's not the full story, though, because just as 
people can make an impact on mud, so mud feeds back 
into their lives. Not only does Jez have a new name, 
but MUD is what brought Evil back to do his exams 
after he decided to take five weeks unscheduled leave 
from the University. Felicity's one-a-day SF book 
habit was only abated for those days he played mud — 
it saved him hundreds of pounds! Sue, however, may 
be suffering from an overdose of mud, so it's not 
always a guaranteed Good Thing. Just most of the 
time! 



70 



13 



A SPECKTACKERLER 
CHRISTMAS 



Christmastide is generally regarded by mud players as 
a fun time for one and all. No-one goes about 
maliciously attacking other players (especially if there 
is a wiz watching to stop them!), and even the most 
paranoid of players has been known to join in for a 
chorus of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' without 
fear of someone stealing their broadsword while they 
stand still in the same place. The roots of this tradition 
lie in the days when mud was enjoyed by a select band 
of students only, and the outside world had barely 
heard of the game. Then, at the end of term, with all 
assignments out of the way and three days before they 
went home, the mud devotees would all get together for 
an afternoon-long session of good cheer, before they 
disappeared off to their respective parental homes in 
sunny Huddersfield or wherever, for a month of 
niudlessness. 

In order to promote goodwill to all mankind, mud 
has a special room called the Christmas Box (or 
XMASBX in its abbreviated form), which only wizards 
?nd witches can enter as it lies in its own half-world, 
inaccessible from the domain of mortals. For fifty 
^eeks of the year the room is left unvisited, gathering 
^ust and forgotten by one and all. Only for the middle 
two weeks of December do memories stir, and a wiz 



71 



A SPECKTACKERLER CHRISTMAS 



will venture into the XMASBX to see if all is well. And 
then mortals will notice a subtle change in the game. 

The XMASBX, you see, contains everything you need 
for a merry Christmas, and the wizzes liberally dis- 
tribute the loot around the Land for players to stumble 
across and drop in the swamp, in order to score the 
generous number of points which the presents are 
worth. Everything you are likely to need to make 
Christmas festive is there. There is holly (not decking 
the hall), a candle, a snowman (trying very hard 
not to melt), a cracker and a wealth of other things. 
Of course there is a beautiful Christmas tree, decorated 
in pretty lights and baubles, which usually winds up 
stuck in the pine forests to the south of mud, where 
unsuspecting adventurers suddenly find it looming 
through the trees at them. 

Some of the objects (all of which have been there for 
at least three years) have uses other than merely being 
treasure. The Christmas bell which 'plays its old 
familiar carols here' can actually be hit, sending a 
^D'-O'-N'-G'- reverberating throughout the Land. If you 
don't want to DONG it, you can DING it, and everyone 
gets a -D'-I'-N'-G'- echoing on their screen. Sometimes 
some quite tuneful-looking melodies can be played, 
until someone on no baud who can't get a word in 
edgeways manages to steal the wretched item and drop 
it in the swamp out of harm's way! 

In its usual endearingly skewed way, mud's Christ- 
mas carol book isn't quite what it should be, contain- 
ing such masterpieces as Once in Royal Boughs oj 
Holly ^ I Saw Three French Hens Come Sailing by and 
Oh Silent Night of First Noel There is plenty of 
Christmas fare (well, it would be if it let you eat it!) 
including plum pudding, mince pies, and a shocking- 
pink mousse (not to be confused with the mouse, 
although since the mouse is made of sugar perhaps 
confusing them is OK after all!). 

The final foodstuff likely to be met is the turkey, 
only it's not dead and spends most of its time running 
around in a mad panic trying to stay that way. Other 
mobiles include Santa Claus (ho ho ho) plus sleigh? 
and his reindeer (which, of course, glows in the 



A SPECKTACKERLER CHRISTMAS 

^Kiark!). The reindeer parodies mud's oldest object, the 
^^ 0X5 and has the same description except instead of a 
sturdy ox lumbering past you nearby, it's a reindeer. 

Some other 'normal' objects you find in the game 
are extra-significant at Christmas, too. The ivy which 
entwines itself round the bird-bath in the pine forest is 
I usually moved to somewhere more prominent. Also 
likely to be placed where people can find it is the 
mistletoe (yes, you can kiss under it . . .), although that 
happens less often since the mistletoe is the last object 
required to gain access to mud's greatest treasure trove, 
the druids' chamber beneath the ring of stones far 
away on the island. If people get hold of the mistletoe 
(because they've not figured out how to get it out from 
where it lies — drop it in the underground stream and 
pick it up outside) they can rush off to the island and 
drag home a sack full of riches. Unless the wiz who 
moved it spots them, of course, in which case they 
might find the dragon has something to say about it. 

Also at Christmas, you get more people imbibing the 
rum, which is stored in the smugglers' cave near the 
beach. Naturally this has an intoxicating effect on 
players, and they will occasionally issue loud hies, or 
stagger backwards into some strange room, or drop 
asleep. It wears off after a while, or if you're sick, but 
at Christmas it's quite likely that at least half the 
players will wander around in a blitzed state kissing 
bunny rabbits and trying to eat lit torches. 

Another Christmassy effect in mud, which rears its 
head around this time of year, is the snow. Normally, 
mud has a fairly regular pattern of sunshine for around 
thirty minutes, followed by rain for about ten. The 
rain prevents you carrying out certain actions, like 
sailing at sea, and swells the river so you can't cross 
(which can cut you off if you had to brave it to get the 
niistletoe, incidentally). At Yuletide, however, the 
wizzes who are full of the spirit of Christmas usually 
switch on the snow, which is just like the rain but lasts 
for longer. This can be something of a surprise to the 
portals, who know exactly what rain is but don't really 
^ow what to make of snow. It's quite amusing 
hatching them talk to each other: 

73 



A SPECKTACKERLER CHRISTMAS 



What's this snow? 

Don't know, I just saw Father Christmas 
go by. and someone has given me this 
cracker . . . 

There is another Christmas-derived feature in mud, 
which now has a more general appeal — the 'specta- 
cular'. A spectacular (pronounced 'specktackerler', 
after the Welsh wizard, Evil, who coined the phrase 
but couldn't say it properly) is one almighty carnage, 
but tremendous fun! The idea is that you get as many 
people playing at once as you can manage, and put 
them all in together. You then 'wizard lock' the game, 
to stop anyone else getting in, and give the word. 
Thereupon, they chase about after each other, killing 
shouting and screaming as they go, until all but one is 
dead. This person is the winner, and receives a 
thousand points for every mortal who started the 
spectacular, and for each of the spectating wizards. 

Spectaculars are terrific to play, but hellishly dif- 
ficult to organise! Quite apart from getting the players 
to come along at the same time (assuming the com- 
puter is up5 too!) you have to re-arrange the locations 
of objects and things so that the fast typers don't get to 
the goodies first. Also, introducing the odd 'new' 
monster, and hyping-up some of the old ones, can take 
time if you want to do it right. Finding six different yet 
logical places to put the spare swords can be quite an 
exercise in itself! Still, the overall effect is well worth 
it. 

What normally happens at Essex is that the internal 
players get two or three terminals each (this being OK 
since everyone else has gone home for the holidays) 
and go in with a like number of mortals. Two of them 
follow the third around, and when they meet someone 
they all join in the fray. Sometimes different players 
will gang up, so there might be gangs of six or eight 
scouring the countryside looking for hidden indiv- 
iduals. Externals (people playing on PSS), being 
slower moving, are quite often caught this way? 
although as the spectacular progresses the larger teams 
tend to get broken up by attacks on some of the 



74 



'followers', and in the resulting attempt to rally forces 
other members of the group are picked off. 

Wizzes watching the game take a great delight in 
seeing what is happening. They cheer the brave ones, 
boo the cowards, and if people are scurrying around 
deep underground hoping everyone else will do the job 
for them, the wizzes are likely to pick them up by the 
scruff of the neck and drop them in the thick of things 
. — asleep! Everyone's game is logged into a different 
file, and at the end of the day these are printed off and 
a 'report' is compiled, saying who was done over by 
whom at what time. The shortest period of time spent 
in a spectacular is reputed to be three seconds, when 
one of Gwyn the Wizard's mortal personas typed EAST 
at the start instead of WEST, and left mud into valley, 
only to learn that he couldn't return. 

Most of the hacking and slaying in spectaculars goes 
on in the mainland, but eventually there are only a few 
players left and they find it increasingly hard to catch 
each other (although the WHO command during a 
spectacular tells you what room your prey is in, instead 
of just what their name is). At this point, the wizards 
collar the survivors and move them to the ship. They 
also give them all weapons, in order to promote good 
bloodshed, and let them loose. As the ship has only 
only about nine rooms in total, this leaves little chance 
to escape, but it can be quite cramped. Recent spec- 
taculars' endings have been moved to the island, 
further out to sea, where there is twice as much space 
and people get more say in who kills them! 

Spectaculars now take place fairly often, late in the 
evening at the end of term when Essex University's 
computer can take the load without inconveniencing 
anyone else. It's interesting to observe that they are 
quite different from the events which inspired their 
conception, and which still take place every Christmas 
in MUD. The year of feuding, fighting and paranoia is 
forgotten for just a few brief days prior to December 
25th, and MUD players get together bound by a wave of 
camaraderie reminiscent of those First World War 
films where the Tommies and the Hun meet in no- 
inan's land for a few, fleeting hours. A shame that it 
doesn't last the whole year round, but, as any wiz will 

75 



A SPECKTACKERLER CHRISTMAS 



tell youj there's only a certain amount of being nice 
that a MUD player can stand, and two weeks seems quite 
long enough to last most mud players for the rest of the 
year! 

Spectaculars have aided many people, but not all 
have reached wiz as a result. This is often because the 
battles were won by someone who already had a wiz 
persona, but was playing as a mortal for the sheer thrill 
of the kill (it makes a nice change from being benevo- 
lent). A quick perusal of mud's graveyard will reveal 
only one person who made it as a result — Felicity the 
Witch whose tombstone reads: 'A spectacular life led 
me here', and it did. The extra points were just about 
enough to get her to witch. Of course, for every success 
story there is a failure, and another player with a 
similar score to start with came second by a hair's 
breadth. And he lost the second spectacular by a 
similar margin, too, after killing fifty percent of the 
other players single-handed! Such is life (and death) in 

MUD. 



76 



14 

IN CONCLUSION 



What we see in the Multi-User Dungeons running at 
various universities, and commercially in one form or 
the other can only be called the beginning. As com- 
puters of all sizes gain in power while decreasing in 
price, systems with the capability to run multi-user 
games will become available to more and more people. 
Eventually muds of all kinds will be available, running 
to suit the tastes of all the different people who are 
maintaining them. Even at Essex University, different 
types of MUD have sprung into existence, with rock 
being the first 'unofficial' mud, based on ITV's Fraggle 
Rock. Soon afterwards, crud appeared, a humorous 
take-off of the genuine mud, written by Jez the Wizard. 
A student at Essex, Martin Fry (or Yawn the Witch) 
further modified crud to produce blud, a hyper- 
violent (as opposed to super-violent, which might be 
considered the norm in mud) game, where the sole aim 
of the players is to kill things. The latest mud to appear 
is UNI, a game based on the actual campus of the Essex 
University, which had many sarcastic descriptions of 
various locations (like the student's pub). 

What all this points to, is that mud is not a one-off 
occurrence. Instead, it's just the first of a new gener- 
ation of computer game. The launch of mud-2 marks 
the second step of mud's advance into our lives. 
Instead of having its availability restricted to the few 
who could reach Essex in the dead of night, it will be 
^p during 'normal' hours, thus allowing 'normal' 



77 



IN CONCLUSION 



people to play. The results of this should be surpris- 
ing, but it's not unrealistic to think that the average, 
everyday business man would enjoy a quick session of 
'Hack & Slay' after work, is it? Talented games 
designers who would like to use the multi-user soft- 
ware to implement their own games designs are 
encouraged to get in touch with MUSE Ltd (see 
Appendix B). 

Now that you've read the book, I suggest you 
actually play the game. While you may have sorne idea 
of the nature of mud, nothing can really describe the 
thrill of being chased by an axe-wielding maniac, as 
you flee for your life! So, with that I'll let you go, to 
play MUD, to journey into the Land, perhaps never to 
return. 



78 



Appendix A 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



The following is an actual logged game of mud on the 
Essex University DEC-io. (Essex University has the 
earlier version of mud: at the time of writing the new 
mud was not available.) 

As our intrepid adventurer. Pathos, set out on his 
expedition across the Land, he encountered several 
other players, including a few of those mysterious and 
unfathomable wizards. Eventually, Pathos reached the 
shrine, where people can teleport themselves to the 
secret sanctum, which contains four highly valuable 
icons. To do this, however, required several other 
people to meditate as well, giving him sufficient 
'power' to make the 'jump'. So he enlisted the aid of 
two other players, and finally magically transported 
himself to the sanctum! 

However, there was a mistake in his plans: he forgot 
about the iron golem that guards the treasure in the 
sanctum, and arrived without a weapon with which to 
dispose of it! Pathos found himself faced with a 
problem. Was he going to go back to the mainland 
empty handed, and disappoint those who had been 
helping him out, or would he risk life and limb and 
brave the evil golem? Unwilling to face up to his error, 
Pathos gritted his teeth and attacked the monster with 
his bare hands! It was a furious battle, but Pathos was 
blessed with incredible luck (or perhaps a kindly, but 
anonymous wizard helped him out?) and the creature 



79 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



barely landed a blow on him. So this time Pathos easily 
won the battle. Instead of taking the traditional path 
back to the mainland^ as outlined by Aphrodite the 
Heroine (who naturally wanted her share of the loot 
pronto!), he decided to leave the sanctum via its exit to 
the galleon, which lies wrecked off the coast of the 
Land. He found it had been mostly ransacked, but 
discovered a raft and some silk that the looters had left 
behind. He also ventured into the captain's cabin, 
where mortals can leave permanent messages by writ- 
ing in the captain's log book. (If you do write in the 
book you get a charming message from mud telling 
you, You feel proud to have left your mark on the 
Land ) 

Using his new-found raft to head for home. Pathos 
ran aground on the Isle of Woe, where the powerful 
magic contained in the arches made him temporarily 
invisible! (This is indicated by a pair of parentheses 
surrounding the ^ which prompts the player for 
commands.) 

Invisible, but still quite determined, he sailed quick- 
ly for the shore and made his way to the start where he 
wanted to rendezvous with the other players whose 
prayers had helped him to the sanctum. There he was 
going to give each of his friends an icon for their 
troubles. Tardis was there in the swamp to receive his 
reward but Aphrodite was a bit slow to arrive so the 
temptation to swamp the icon he had promised her 
proved too great for him to resist! So he unloaded all 
the treasures he discovered on his brief (but harrow- 
ing) journey. Tired, but satisfied by a reasonably 
successful bout of adventuring (and not wanting to 
hang around to make excuses to Aphrodite), Pathos 
decided to call it a day, knowing that in the near future 
he would return to explore further. Who knows, 
perhaps next time he would sail beyond the ship to the 
island, and meet the dreaded fire-breathing dragon! 

Notice how almost all of mud's commands can be 
abbreviated. Pathos does not bother to type words like 
SCORE or KI LL or SHOUT in full. He simply uses so or k 
or sh. QUICKWHO is similarly reduced to qw — and 
since fast typing is often inaccurate mud accepts wq as 
the same. 



80 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



Another feature which the log shows is how mud 
takes over the fighting once the fray has commenced. 
All Pathos could do once his battle with the golem had 
commenced was keep his fingers crossed .... 

Here then is the complete log of Pathos the 
Champion's session of mud. 

ESSEX UNIVERSITY: Multi-User Dungeon. 
This Mud created: 17th July 1985 at 12:09:08 
Origin of version: 06:19:21. 
Accumulated game time: 5 mins 2 sees. 
Welcome! By what name shall I call you'' 
* PATHOS 

This persona already exists - what's the password'' 

^Password 

Yes! 

Your last game was today at 6:2^:32. 

Hello again. Pathos the champion! 
Narrow road between lands. 

You are stood on a narrow road between The Land and whence you caie. To the 
north and south are the small foothills of a pair of majestic mountains, with 
a large wall running round. To the west the road continues, where in the 
distance you can see a thatched cottage opposite an ancient cemetery. The way 
ou IS to the east, where a shroud of mist covers the secret pass by which you 
entered The Land. 

Mugsanon the witch is here, carrying key 
♦Fanman the enchanter has just arrived. 
*"Hi Vizard 



Mugsanon the witch says "Hi Pathos" 
*yho 

Maria the sorceress is playing 
Pathos the champion is playing 
Fanman the enchanter is playing 
Mugsanon the witch is playing 
Tana the legend is playing 
Aphrodite the warrior is playing 
Jethro is playing 
Grobble the legend is playing 
Kalamazoo the superhero is playing 
Rebecca the necromancess is playing 
Stev is playing 

♦s 

Foothi Us. 

These are some foothills to the tall mountains which tower above you to the 
eas . Travel in that direction is impossible because of a tall stone wall, 
Duilt by the locals when they learned of the creatures dwelling within ThJ 
Land... To the north runs an east-west road, and to the west is forest. The 
hills rise slowly to the south. 

There is a small hole in the ground, about 5 inches across. It bends too 
Sharply for you to see anything down it. 

*s 

Cave. 

This is a cave, wherein once dwelled a hermit in times long passed. Above is a 
nuge mountain towering amongst the cLouds, and outside can be seen a pasture, 
sma cottage and a cemetery in the distance. At the east end of the cave is a 
small opening in the wall. 

*s 

Rapids. 

You are on the bank of some dangerous rapids. Beyond them to the east the 
'^iver goes underground; to the west it continues out of sight, and you can 



81 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



hear a thundering as of falling water froi that direction. To the south can be 
seen (and sielled!) a fuiing swaip/ and southeast is a saall pond. 

*s 

You are waylaid in a treacherous swaip. 
*u 

Dense forest. 

You are wandering around in some dense forest, to the south of a pleasant 
pasture, and to the west of a fuiing swaip. To the southwest the forest opens 
up onto a maqical glade. 

*s 

Hagical glade. 

You are in a lagical glade, surrounded by forest. East and west it looks 
inpenetrable, but in the northerly directions the trees are less dense. In the 
southerly directions, the trees are of soft pine, and through them to the 
southwest can be glimpsed a sundial. 

*se 

Entrance to badger's sett. 

You are in part of a large pine forest. Northwest, the forest opens up onto a 
■agical glade, and in all other directions the forest continues, although in 
some the trees are too thick to permit passage. In front of you, in the 
ground, a hole leads downwards into a badger's sett. 

*se 

Pine forest. 

You are wandering around amongst some soft pine trees. All about you are more, 
some densely packed and others allowing passage through. Through the trees to 
the southeast you can see what appears to be a bandstand. 

*se 

You hear the clear notes of a flute ringing through the air. 



Bandstand. 

You are stood in a bandstand in the midst of the pine forest. All around you 
are trees, denser in the easterly directions than in the westerly ones. The 
bandstand hasn't been used for some time, obviously with it beingjn the 
middle of a forest, and in places its paint is peeling, but it i s 'neverthe less 
a surprisingly fine example. 

*sw 

Pine forest. 

You are wandering around amongst some soft pine trees. All about you are more, 
some densely packed and others allowing passage through. To the northeast 
through the trees can be made out a wooden building something like a 
bandstand. To the southeast there looks to be some sort of religious shrine. 

*se 

Shrine. 

You are inside a small yet sacrosanct shrine. A sense of deep respectfulness 
fills this modest room. The way out, into a pine forest, is to the northwest. 
It is obvious that the shrine was meant to be used for quiet meditation, like 
similar chambers. 

*sh Ooes anyone want to meditate with me? 
*pray 

Worship in these parts is customarily conducted near idols, usually their eyes 
if there are precious stones there. 

*qy 

Pathos the champion 
Blatch the enchantress 
Maria the sorceress 
Blink 

Fanman the enchanter 
Hugs the necromancer 
Tardis the hero 
Aphrodite the heroine 
Jethro 

Grobble the legend 



82 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



Kalamazoo the enchanter 
Rebecca the necromancess 
Stev 



A male voice in the distance shouts "Tardis" 



Aphrodite the heroine tells you "I will" 



A female voice in the distance shouts "yep i do blink." 



A male voice in the distance shouts "kalamazoo ( in tree )" 
*sh Ok, In in the shrine. The rest of you get ready! 
A male voice in the distance shouts "Tardis in cave" 



Aphrodite the heroine tells you "ready?" 
* 

Tardis the hero tells you "Tardis in cave." 

*sh Ok, lets try nouH! 

*iaeditate 

You feal a great tranquility filling your being, and when you cease your 
meditation, you are in a strange place... 
Outer sanctum. 

A golem of solid iron stands here as guardian of the inner sanctum. 

*sh Unan.. is this goleti pretty tough? 
Aphrodite the heroine tells you "ok?" 

A male voice in the distance shouts "Idiot. Yes, pretty tough." 



Aphrodite the heroine tells you "Pretty tough, you got a weapon I hope?" 
Kalamazoo the enchanter tells you "what a prat ..." 
*uish, Umntn, may I have a yeapon? 

Your spell works, but the power of the magic you have invoked causes you to 
Tall into a deep slumber... 

You can't get to sleep in this small place. 



Aphrodite the heroine tells you "if you survive get icons and meditate out" 
*aphrodite ok 

*kalamazoo First time for everything! 

A male voice in the distance shouts "Or a sword..." 

*sc 

Score to date: 1766 

Level of experience: Champion 

Strength: 90 Stamina: 85 Dexterity: 92 Sex: male 
Maximum stamina: 85 

Weight carried: Og (max. weight: 90000g) 
Objects carried: 0 (max. number: 11) 
Barnes played to date: 2 



•^nII!^!l.''°'^^.'" distance shouts "Aphro claims to have done it with a brand 
tvnce tnough. 



jKalamazoo the enchanter tells you "yeah well , u should have asked someone ..." 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



*look 

Outer sanctum. 

You find yourself in the outer sanctum of some strange, holy temple. All about 
you, the walls seem to be a hazy, formless blackness, but there is a visible 
opening to the north from whence comes an errie, golden light. 
A golem of solid iron stands here as guardian of the inner sanctum. 



A female voice in the distance shouts "I was a novice and had 1 stam left 
afterwards. I was lucky" 



*sh UeLl.. here goes! 

*7 

You aren't carrying anything! 
*kili golem 

*The viciousness of a whack by the golem sends you sideways. 

Dazedly you pull through, and press forward into the contest. 

Your mis-timed return blow at the golem is effortlessly shrugged off. 

♦You easily evade a poor swing from the golem. 
You bash the golem with a punishing forehand! 

♦You comfortably shrug off a feeble thump by the golem. 
You wallop the golem with a crushing whack! 

♦You easily shrug off a clumsy forehand by the golem. 
You strike out at the golem with a stunning cross! 

♦You effortlessly shrug off a bungled forehand by the golem. 
You strike home at the golem with a stunning blow! 

♦You narrowly evade a feeble swing from the golem. 
You smite the golem with a furious forehand! 

♦Your last thump was the end of the golem! 
You are victorious - this time... 

* 

Aphrodite the heroine tells you "right hook, right hook, body blow" 
* 

Aphrodite the heroine tells you "jab jab uppercut!" 
Rebecca has been exorcised. 
*Sh That uas easy!! (pheu) 
*sc 

Score to date: 1826 

Level of experience: Champion 

Strength: 90 Stamina: 74 Dexterity: 92 Sex: male 
Maximum stamina: 83 

Weight carried: Og (max. weight: 90000g) 
Objects carried: 0 (max. number: 11) 
Games played to date: 2 

* 

A male voice in the distance shouts "By the way, I already lost a champiion to 
it tonigght: with axe!" 

* 

Tardis the hero tells you "U know how to get back?" 
*tardis Yeah 

Tardis the hero tells you "where meet?" 
Inner sanctum. 

A marvellous icon depicting the inner sanctum lies here. 



84 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



A glorious icon depicting an ancient chamber lies here. 

A valuable icon depicting a shrine lies here. 

A beautiful icon depicting a hallowed chamber lies here. 



*get all 

Icon taken. 

Icon taken. 

Icon taken. 

Icon taken. 



You are currently holding the following: 
icon icon icon icon 



*exits 






south 


Outer sanctum. 


in 


Outer sanctum. 


out 


Outer sanctum. 


north 


Vi cious 


rocks. 


northeast 


Vi cious 


rocks. 


east 


Vi cious 


rocks . 


southeast 


Vi cious 


rocks.. 


southwest 


Vi cious 


rocks. 


west 


Vi cious 


rocks. 


northwest 


Vi cious 


rocks. 


swamp 


Vi c ious 


rocks. 


jump 


Vi cious 


rocks. 



Aphrodite the heroine tells you "meditate now" 

*aphrodite I will do the ship. 

* 

Tardis the hero tells you "Well? meditate!" 
*n 

Vicious rocks. 

An animated skeleton bars your way. 



*ki skeleton 



♦The strength of a blow by the skeleton sends you sideways. 
Yet courageously you carry on, and charge back into the action. 
Your follow-through thrust sends the skeleton to the ground! 

♦You simply parry a pathetic punch by the skeleton. 
You take aim at the skeleton with a mighty cross! 

♦You easily elude a poor punch froa the skeleton. 

♦The savageness of a thump from the skeleton sends you staggering. 
But you pull together, and launch yourself into the tussle. 
Your follow-through cross sends the skeleton sideways! 

♦You are stricken by the force of a slash from the skeleton! 
Groggily you compose, and stagger forward into the melee. 
Your next blow sends the skeleton flying! 

Aphrodite the heroine tells you "check for raft first!!" 

♦Your last swing took the life of the skeleton! 
You are victorious - this time... 



*n 

Deck. 



*d 

Hold. 

A raft, large enough to carry one person, has been left here. 
Lying on the floor is some fine silk. 



*get raft, silk 



85 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



*Raft taken. 
♦Silk taken. 
*u 

Deck . 

♦Crow's nest. 

The golden earrings of some fotgotten pirate Lie here. 
*get alt 
♦Earrings taken 
*e 

Deck. 

♦Steps. 

*e 

Poop deck. 
*w 

Steps. 
*y 

♦Deck. 

♦ in 

Captain's cabin. 

An inky quilL-pen has been left here. 

The log of Captain Oliver is here. In it is transcribed the following: 

"Hack and Slay, Hack and Slay, Hack and Slay!" 

"Shadow's still lengthening, in a 2060 stylee!" 

"Gail was here all alone and without Richard (sob)..." 

"Anana was here with the 5 zombies and 1 skeleton!" 

"Was he? So that makes 6 zombies and a skeleton all together?" 

"...dogn't miss the Gnome at Home - 01-348 3247.. (advt!)" 

"Duncan the wizard played from California... All by himself!!! " 

"Fodded everyone else did he?" 

"Hack & Slay... and slay., and slay., and slay!" 

"Himani, daughter of the Himalayas writes in the log at last !!!" 

"I love you, Himani !xxx" 

"I.Buryum & Sons (Undertakers) " 

"Can the following please leave their measurements: Hath, Romnanm, Gna" 
"..gwhoops gwrong gnuinber - Gnome At Home on 01-888 8894 (advt!)" 
"Essex is in its death throws .... see you guys some time (Yawn Bsc. Hons" 
"jane collett of Richmond was here, thanks to darling bytor!" 
"Darling Bytor was here - thanks to no-one!" 

"Hello from Maria love and kisses to you all!" 

"the original HEEPIE has been here - watch you feet" 

"(prev message cot'd) & slay S slay & slay!!!!" 

"frobozz the wiz and kate the mortal were married in essex mud on" 

"july 5th 1985 by Erekose the cleric" 

"Jessica the infamous managed to a) get here & b) get thru to Gnome at" 

"Home - whatever next?! a delivered Demon modem ? hehehe" 

"Ok dan.... i actually made it!" 

"And i made it again dan. .. .signed andie" 

"Isn't it fun when your invisible with the egg?hehe" 

"Well is 58k in one night a record? took me 7 hours" 

"Hake that 64k " 

"AtAt last!!! I've finally found out how to write in this book!" 
"satan has claimed yet another legend hehehehe" 

An ancient chart lies in its frame here. 

♦ our 
Deck. 

♦ 5 

Vicious rocks. 

♦7 

You are currently holding the following: 
earrings silk raft icon icon icon icon 



86 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



♦s,s,s 

Sea. 

Sea. 

North part of Isle of Woe. 
♦ s 

South part of Isle of Woe. 
*n 

North part of Isle of Woe. 

(♦) n,n,n 

Sea. 

Sea. 

Vicious rocks. 

(*)e,ne,n,ne,e 

(♦)Sea. 
Sea. 
Sea. 
Sea. 

Stony beach. 
Scrub slope. 

(♦)s 

Dangerous cliff. 
(♦)s 

Forest on steep slope. 
(♦)s 

Dense forest. 
(♦)s 

A female voice in the distance shouts "Yes, tell me where!" 
Dense forest. 

There is a felled yew tree here. You can see that the hollow stump leads down 
to the depths. 

(♦)s 

Beaten track. 
(*)e 

Road opposite cottage. 
(♦)e 

Narrow road. 
(♦)e 

Narrow road between lands. 

Hugsanon the witch is here, carrying nothing 

6rob is here, carrying nothing 

i*)Sh Cotie to the start if I owe you an icon. 
(♦)Tardis the hero has just arrived. 

(♦)Edicius has just arrived. 
Tardis the hero has just left. 

(♦)Tardis the hero has just arrived. 

(♦)give icon to tardis 
(♦) 

Icon given to Tardis the hero. 
(♦) 

In the distance you hear a sudden rushing sound, as if a huge torrent of water 
has just started to flood soiewhere. 

(♦)s 

Foothi Us. 

There is a small hole in the ground, about 5 inches across. It bends too 
sharply for you to see anything down it. 



87 



A LOGGED GAME OF MUD 



(*)Stev has just arrived. 

(*)Jethro the warrior has arrived. 

(*)Jethro the warrior has just Left. 

(*) 
Cave. 

(*)Stev has just arrived. 

(*)Rapids. 
(*)s 

You are waylaid in a treacherous swamp. 

*drop icon, icon, icon, si Ik 

Icon dropped. 
Icon dropped. 
Icon dropped. 
Si Lk dropped. 

(*)sc 

(*)Score to date: 1851 

Level of experience: Champion 

Strength: 90 Stamina: 61 Dexterity: 92 Sex: male 
Maximum stamina: 85 

Weight carried: 10500g (max. weight: 90000g) 
Objects carried: 1 (max. number: 11) 
Games played to date: 2 

(*) 

(*)Mensch the superhero has just arrived. 
(*)Mensch the superhero has just Left. 
(*) 

A female voice in the distance shouts "Oh no, not again!" 
(*) safe 

Pathos the champion saved. 
(*) 

A male voice in the distance shouts "WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR" 

(*)n 
Rapids. 

It is snowing. 
(*)Edicius 

(Pathos the champion) 
Blatch the enchantress 
Maria the sorceress 
Dimar the hero 
Mensch the superhero 
Mugsanon the witch 
Tardis the champion 
Aphrodi te 
Grob 

Kalamazoo the warrior 
Stev 

East pasture. 
(*)n 

You hear the clear notes of a flute ringing through the air. 

(*)In front of hut. 

*"Ah ueLl.. tine to go home. 
*Qui t 

88 



Appendix B 

USEFUL ADDRESSES 



MUSE MUD 

Multi-User Entertainment Ltd is the company set up 
to write the software for mud and its successors. They 
are responsible for licensing the game and for looking 
after the users in the new version co-published with 
British Telecom. A mud starter pack costs £20. It 
includes a map, a booklet containing hints and tips, a 
password protected account and your first three hours 
in the game free. Thereafter mud costs between £1 and 
£2 per hour depending on how much time you 
purchase in advance. 

MUSE Ltd, 
65 Albemarle Way, 
London ECiV 4JB 

Telephone: (01) 608 1171 



COMPUNET MUD 

Originally set up for Commodore 64 owners, Com- 
punet sell a special modem enabling you to access the 
original mud as well as offering various other services. 
They now offer associate membership to people who 



89 



USEFUL ADDRESSES 



have different micros and modems, mud on Compunet 
costs around £3 per hour. 

Compunet Teleservices Ltd, 
Metford House, 
15-18 CHpstone Street, 
London WiP 7DF 

Telephone: (01) 637 0942 
Packet Switch Stream 

A PSS account is essential if you want to play on Essex 
University in the middle of the night or don't want to 
pay for long-distance calls to the MUSE/BT Vax. The 
University's NUA is A2206411411 and, once through, 
you LOG 2653.2653. The password is GUESTS. Then 
you just type MUD. At the time of writing only 20 
players are permitted on the system simultaneously, 
however. The NUA of the new mud is not available at 
the time of writing but contact MUSE to find it. A 
PSS account costs around £25 per year and around £1 
per hour to play mud. There are no charges to use the 
Essex DEC- 10 but the hours are unfriendly and it's 
difficult to get in. 

Packet Switch Stream, 
GO7 Lutyens House, 
1-6 Finsbury Circus, 
London EC2M 7LY 

Telephone: (01) 920 0661 



90 



OTHER TITLES PUBLISHED BY 
CENTURY COMMUNICATIONS 



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